Choosing the first star at the Bell Center Tuesday night was not a difficult task.
Carolina goalkeeper Curtis McElhinney was 48 shots out of 49 as the Hurricanes beat the Canadiens 2-1 to win the honor. Victor Rask and Trevor van Riemsdyk defeated Canadiens goaltender Carey Price on the by-pass, while Phillip Danault was the only Canadian to place a puck past McElhinney. Price stopped 20 of 22 shots fired at him.
Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk was named second star despite his uselessness and minus one goal and Danault was the third star.
"He made a few saves," said Brendan Gallagher of the Canadiens after the McElhinney match. "But it's a little easier. I think we need to make it harder with him. You must also work the goalkeeper. He is no different from other players. You have to find a way to overwork it. He has always found a way to rely on the pucks, and I think this is an area where we could probably look tonight and improve. "
The Canadians saw their record drop to 11-9-5 with the loss and are now winless in their last five games (0-3-2). The Canadians have also lost their place in the playoffs. The Hurricanes improved to 12-9-3 to qualify for the second and final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canadians and Hurricanes both have 27 points, but Carolina played one game less and one more win.
"It's difficult," Gallagher said of the losing streak. "That's one of the things we were pretty good at the beginning of the year. Once we lost, we bounced back with a win. And it's not like our game has slipped a lot. The more we advance in the season, the more difficult these games are to win, "added Gallagher. "I think it's there that we can probably dig deeper as a group, understand that it's going to become more and more difficult and that we need to improve our game and level of competition a bit and find ways to win them. " Games.
"The points every night are so important," added Gallagher. "You look around the league, I think almost everyone still thinks he's got a boost to play in the playoffs. When you have this situation, you will play against teams that are hungry and for us now, I think we have probably reached our level of desperation to put an end to this little slippage that we face. "
Nicolas Deslauriers and Jonathan Drouin both missed an opportunity to score on the empty net and Max Domi scored the goal within two minutes of the end of the third period and goalkeeper Carey Price shot for an additional striker. Gallagher said the Canadians missed the Bell Center after Danault's goal at 9:29 of the third period halved the Hurricanes' lead.
"Certainly," said Gallagher. "It's something we always talk about. A few games away here, just get the first game and the crowd gets involved, which has an impact for us. "
Unfortunately for the Canadians, they could not get a second shot. McElhinney.
Man Mountain coming back
Canadian defenseman Shea Weber played his first game for almost a year after a foot and knee injury, but you never knew he'd been gone for so long by watching him.
Weber scored a 25:19 peak in ice time, got help and was over-1 with three shots on goal and a shot.
Weber received a nice standing ovation from the Bell Center fans when he arrived on the ice for his first shift at the start of the first period.
"It was special," said Weber. "Obviously, I was nervous before the game and looking forward to doing my first shift, so that really helped me."
Gallagher about Weber: "I think you noticed it on the ice. I think the time we spent in our own area was significantly lower. His presence in front of our net was also seen. I think his shot … he has managed at least five or six very good opponents tonight. You give him as many opportunities, then they will start playing. I think about all aspects of the game and then, of course, he's the leader of our group, so it was nice to find him. "
It was Weber's first game since the NHL 100 Classic open match on December 16 in Ottawa and his first "C" match as captain.
"Weby is a very strong and fit guy," said David Schlemko, who clocked 20:53 of ice time as a Weber partner. "He always seems to be in the right position. He likes to talk, I like talking there, so it's easier to go back to the pucks and get them out of your area. Obviously, with his shot, he is a threat in zone O and every time I get the puck, I try to see if he is ready to drop that batter. "
The price goes to the white plates
Price found the white pads with which he had started the season after being held 2-4-2 by wearing reds.
"I was just trying something new and I liked it, so I went back to white," Price said after the match. "I will probably come back to red after that."
Price had the big success of the night when he cleared Warren Foegele of the Hurricanes behind the net in the second period.
"It's sort of stuck in the boards," said Price. "It touched my feet and feet, so I just hit it. I do not think I hit him hard, but he did not have to have balance or anything like that. "
Price is now 7-7-4 with an average of 3.11 and a .897 efficiency percentage.
The power play is fighting again
The Canadians were hoping that Weber would give them a boost for their power play, which ranked 30th in the NHL before the game started, but they managed a draw for three against the Hurricanes.
"I think Shea Weber is a very big weapon for any power play," said Julien after Tuesday morning's skating session. "I think the other teams recognize it. Maybe this opens up some things that we have not had as open as before. If it's not the case, it's really a guy who can really shoot the puck and has always been good on the power play. At the same time, I think we all have to sometimes simplify our games. It's about moving the puck quickly, it's about making easy games. From time to time, I find that we are looking for whimsical or lucky pieces, which often causes us problems. So it's a matter of simplifying things and being a little more efficient. "
After the game on the power play, Weber said, "We have to put ourselves on the same page. We are working on it. We work before practice, during practice. So I think we'll get there. But for the moment, it just does not click as it should. "
Quote of the day
Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi was asked after the morning skate to describe how he felt he was standing in the net in power play as Weber was about to slam the ball.
"I almost pissed in my pants," Kotkaniemi said. "It's pretty scary. You should try that, guys.
Relief for Petry
Weber's return will reduce Jeff Petry's workload while serving as the No. 1 defenseman in the captain's absence.
As Tuesday night's game approached, Petry led the Canadians in ice time with an average of 24:57 per game.
"I liked it … I enjoyed playing the heavy minutes," said Petry after the morning skate on Weber's replacement. "But I think getting him back and lightening the load a bit will benefit my game.
"I think everyone did a good job and that he knew that he was going to leave early in the year, we all had to be good and take over with his absence," added Petry. "It called the other guys to step up.
"I think it's good for our entire team," Petry said of Weber's return. "I think he's a guy who's showing leadership and an on-ice presence that I think will benefit us."
After the match, Julien praised Petry, who scored 22:53 of ice time against the Hurricanes and scored five shots on goal, as well as three hits, while he was associated with Brett Kulak.
"Jeff was a good soldier for us on this first pair," said Julien. "You can say 1A, 1B (with Weber). It's nice to have these two guys on the right side who definitely stabilize the second pair. Because Petey becomes a very good second right in my case. "
Domi again beat the score
Domi was dropped from the match sheet for the third consecutive game against the Hurricanes.
Domi has been sidelined only six times in 25 games this season and leads the Canadiens in goals with a total of 11-15-26. Before this mini-recession, Domi had a series of 11 consecutive losses.
Hudon sets a team record for hits
Charles Hudon set a Canadian record with 13 hits in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at Bell Center, but he had only two against the Hurricanes.
Hudon's performance against the Bruins was only the 26th time an NHL player had 13 hits in a single game since the league started counting this statistic in the 1997-98 season.
The previous Canadian record was 11 shots shared by Nicolas Deslauriers, Mike Komisarek and Chad Kilger. The NHL's 17-hit record is shared by Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Gary Roberts.
The Canadians will have a day off Wednesday, followed by workouts scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard at 11 am to prepare for two consecutive games at the Bell Center against the New York Rangers on Saturday. pm, SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio) and the San Jose Sharks on Sundays (7pm, SN1, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).