CALGARY – Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller used Tuesday’s game to provide two perfect examples of what the Habs need to start doing down the stretch.
After seeing the Flames head into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead and an 18-9 shot advantage, Pacioretty gave his team a spark by sneaking a puck past Miikka Kiprusoff to tie the game. The goal won’t likely make it onto the 23-year-old power forward’s career highlight reel, but his change-up marker gave the Habs a blueprint to use while mounting their third period comeback.
Trailing 5-2 midway through the third period, Eller took a page out of Pacioretty’s book, throwing a puck at Kiprusoff from the slot for his 14th goal of the season. Eller is hoping that lesson results in a “shoot first and ask questions later” attitude on the Habs bench.
“That’s the message from the coach and that’s the idea for us right now: getting more pucks to the net, getting the rebounds, and taking low shots,” explained the 21-year-old Dane. “When we do those things we get the results most of the time. We need to get the puck in their zone, too, and that’s what we’re struggling with at times. You have to do ‘A’ and ‘B’ before you do ‘C’.”
The catalyst for the comeback may have been Pacioretty’s second period goal, but the New Caanan, CT native didn’t stop there. The rugged winger added his team-leading 28th goal of the season to bring the Habs within one with his second goal of the night in the third period.
“Those were big goals and that’s what we need him to be doing, just shooting the puck,” confirmed Ryan White, who registered two shots and three hits against the Flames. “They maybe weren’t the prettiest goals we’ve seen him score this season but they were big goals for us.
“That’s what we want from our guys – putting pucks on net and hoping for bounces,” he continued. “We got a couple tonight that created some opportunities and some life on our bench. We just have to focus on better starts and helping out our goalie and being better in front of him.”
Beyond searching for the silver lining in losses at this point in the season, the Canadiens know there are still lessons to be taken from both the positives and negatives on Tuesday night.
“Today there was a lot of good and a lot of bad,” admitted Eller, whose team outhit Calgary 21-11 while being outshot 34-28. “There were periods where we did good things; we scored four goals and when we’re throwing the puck at the net and doing those things, we get the results. At the same time, we did a lot of things that weren’t good enough in our own end that gave it away. It’s hard to catch up to three goals in one period and we put ourselves in a tough position. We can’t be doing that and expect to win.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - Mar. 6, 2012