ANAHEIM – Special teams were the difference again on Wednesday night.
The Canadiens came into Wednesday’s game owning the league’s second-best penalty kill percentage; their power play is another story. With power play point man Jaroslav Spacek on the shelf and Max Pacioretty serving part one of his three-game suspension, the Habs went 0-for-7 with the man advantage against Anaheim.
Going 0-for-24 since Tomas Plekanec scored the team’s last power play marker against the Rangers on November 19, the Canadiens know exactly what they need to work on to win games.
“We have to solve our power play; that’s obviously a big key,” admitted Brian Gionta, who played a team-high 8:40 on the PP against the Ducks. “It seemed like the whole third period was special teams – you’re either on the power play or killing a penalty. It’s tough to get momentum back but that’s when you need your power play to create something. Unfortunately in the third period we didn’t create any shots or sustained pressure.”
Combining for 13 penalties in the outing, the Habs and Ducks traded opportunities throughout the game. The difference on the scoreboard may have been Anaheim’s two power play goals, but the turning point in the game came long before Devante Smith-Pelly and Corey Perry found the back of the net.
“The game changed when they scored their first goal,” explained Jacques Martin of Ryan Getzlaf’s goal with 19 seconds left in the opening frame. “We had a good first period and I thought we had the edge in play.
“Probably the fact that we had three consecutive power plays and didn’t score or create many chances changed the momentum of the game,” he added. “They won the special teams battle. They scored two on the power play and that was the difference in the game.”
Owning a 6-13-4 record prior to the game, the Ducks were looking for their first win in eight games.
“They’re a desperate team and they did some things early on but we got going the right way,” described Hal Gill. “We just let a few things creep back into our game and they have some skilled players who made some good plays. We couldn’t get the job done on the power play and they scored a couple on theirs. It’s tough to win when you do that.”
Heading to San Jose for the second game of the California road trip, the Habs’ power play specialists will have a chance at redemption on Thursday night when they face the league’s 28th ranked penalty kill.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.comSEE ALSOGame recapThe Numbers Game - Nov. 30, 2011 BoxscoreGame highlightsThe Notebook - Nov. 30