Hockey Day In Canada: Habs fall 3–1 to Jets on home ice

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images North America

Perhaps the Montreal Canadiens deserved better luck when they took to the ice on Saturday afternoon, kicking off Hockey Day In Canada at the Bell Centre on Sportsnet.

What made this game different from all the others? Claude Julien, who had been brought aboard shortly after his release from the Boston Bruins back on February 7, was behind the team’s bench for very first time, amongst different standards and high expectations in order to fix a struggling team of which has only won one of their last eight games (1–6–1).

This would be the first of four games to come on the nation’s sports network with a pre-game show LIVE from Kenora, Ontario, which began at 12pm ET with host Ron MacLean, alongside Ken Reid and former Maple Leaf, Lanny McDonald.

The Montreal Canadiens were just coming off their bye-week which began on, and so many felt more rested and ready to play when the club proudly played host to the Winnipeg Jets in a matinee downtown at the Bell Centre.

The scoring started early when veteran defenseman Andrei Markov took advantage of a poorly timed turnover from Ben Chiarot which made it’s way to captain Max Pacioretty, who then drove it to Markov on the net’s right side, who flicked it past Connor Hellbuyck for his fourth of the season, relieving pressure under a brand new management.

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images North America

Unfortunately, that would be all the action for the remainder of the afternoon, as the failing organization continues to aim for new heights while continuing to make their way out of a slump.

Prior to puck drop at 2pm ET, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reported that Michael McCarron, who had been recalled from the club’s AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, on Friday morning would draw into the starting lineup, meanwhile, David Desharnais, Greg Pateryn and Sven Andrighetto would all be listed a healthy scratch.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Looking ahead to second period action, things remained at a steady pace, however, that would not last through the 20 minute entirety as Joel Armia scored a short-handed, unassisted goal at the 4:52 mark, his sixth of the regular season, tying the all-Canadian affair at one through 40 minutes of play.

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Moving along to third period play, things had become a little less subtle as tensions rose and efforts increased, making for an intense final 20 minutes of action.

Early on at the 18:43 mark, Patrick Laine was on the rush with Mathieu Perreault and Chariot both nearby, getting assists on each end before he was perfectly set up to give the Jets a 2–1 lead.

As the shot clock neared it’s conclusion for the afternoon, Perreault was not done yet as he put one past Price with just 1:16 left to go, officially closing the doors on a Habs team who was looking for better odds as well as luck after taking one week off to rest and recover.

Price would end up with a total of 30 saves for Montreal (31–20–8), however, the club’s loosing streak extends to three amidst the debut of their potential saviour for what is left to come in their final 13 regular season games ahead.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

After the game, captain Max Pacioretty spoke with the local media with regards to the dynamic on the ice of which was off, and shared the following statement as change is slowely on it’s way, “It wasn’t a strong game. We got outplayed, especially I feel in our end, and that was tough to create anything off of that offensively.”

Now all he alongside his teammates can possibly hope for is that they get things off to a better ending with Julien’s presence added on as opposed to a record such as 1–5–1 which the team battled in it’s last seven games leading up to the NHL’s mandated bye-week with Michel Therrien on thin ice himself.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

After the game, Julien spoke with the media once again where he spoke about the feelings of every Habs player going into today not knowing what to expect. With regards to that, he shared the following statement, “You could see there was a lot of nervousness in the group, but also a little lack of confidence right now.”

In a brief elaboration of the plan he seeks to execute, Julien said, “I’m trying to learn as much about this team as I can in a short period of time because of where we are in the schedule and then where we are in the season.”