The Blue Jackets' late-period goal bugaboo might have cost them two points tonight in a game they really needed to win.
Holding a 2-0 late in the dying seconds of the opening period, a puck management miscue gifted Alex Galchenyuk a mini-breakaway that he cashed in on, cutting the Jackets' lead to 2-1 just before the buzzer. A period full of energy, some good fortune, and a bit of relief was quickly muffled by the Montreal goal, and the visitors didn't need much time in the second period to wake up after a sloppy first period.
From the start of the second period, the Canadiens out-shot the Blue Jackets by a 26-11 margin and controlled large portions of the game. The Jackets were unable to beat Peter Budaj in the final 47:48 of regulation and overtime, and a squandered 5-on-3 opportunity earlier in the game didn't help their cause. The lone goal in the shootout come in the second round from the shifty David Desharnais, who made his return to the Canadiens lineup this evening.
Curtis McElhinney was deservedly named the game's No. 1 star, making 38 saves and giving the Jackets every chance to hang around. His best work came in the second period when Montreal started to shift the momentum, but he wasn't too busy in overtime as the Blue Jackets dominated the sudden death session. Budaj, on the other hand, was good when he had to be despite a pair of fluky goals scored by the Jackets; he turned aside both Mark Letestu, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen - no slouches in the shootout - to nab the second point for the Canadiens.
The bottom line for the Jackets: they need to start getting the results. After tonight's loss, they've dropped eight of their past nine games but sit just one point behind the third-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. With a five-game road trip through Canada on the horizon, it's time to find some solutions and begin the climb up the standings.
Galchenyuk's goal - his fourth of the season - was a huge goal for the Canadiens and it seemed to get them engaged after a sleepy first period. Montreal was very good early in the second period and eventually capitalized on the power play later in the middle frame. The late-period goal was especially tough for the Jackets to handle tonight.
1. CURTIS MCELHINNEY (CBJ)
After the first period, McElhinney was the only guy keeping the Jackets in this one. He stood tall in the second and third period, and finished the game with a save percentage of .950. That's all you can ask for from your goaltender.
2. LARS ELLER (MTL)
Eller was dominant in the face-off circle, winning 15-of-19 draws (79 percent) and scored a clutch goal for Montreal that tied the game in the second period.
3. DAVID DESHARNAIS (MTL)
In his return to the lineup, the creative Habs center was relatively quiet the entire night but scored the deciding goal in the shootout.
AT OTTAWA SENATORS
SUNDAY, 1 P.M.
CANADIAN TIRE CENTRE