The team in white uniforms won at the Bell Centre.
But everyone went home happy.
“That was obviously not the game we wanted to play,” Jeff Petry said in his on-ice interview after the Canadiens downed Carolina 6-4. The game’s First Star was alluding to the Canadiens’ difficulty in nailing down the win they deserved.
Maybe not an artistic classic – especially for defensive-minded head coach Claude Julien – but it was a game Canadiens’ fans had a fine time watching.
The team in head-to-toe red – reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s Central Red Army – gave the white-clad home team a helluva battle.
And it was hugely entertaining.
The Canadiens had 70 shot attempts, 40 of which were on Petr Mrazek.
Carey Price faced 31 shots. And the four goals allowed notwithstanding, the Canadiens’ goaltender was spectacular when he had to be.
As has been the case since late November, we are seeing vintage Carey Price.
And he’s playing behind a D bolstered by the return of Shea Weber.
Number 6 played almost 27 minutes … and Weber was the second-best Canadiens defence man. Petry scored twice to earn First Star honours.
He was bolstered by partnership with Mike Reilly.
Re-inserted in the lineup after the embarrassment of not playing in his Minnesota hometown, Reilly combined with Weber for an astounding 17 shot attempts, 12 of which were on goal.
Credit Carolina with a great effort … as befits a team playing in red unis at the Bell Centre.
And credit the Canadiens with resilience.
Down 1-0 on the first of two goals by spectacular Carolina rookie Andrei Svechnikov – selected one spot ahead of Jesperi Kotkaniemi last June – the Canadiens got back into the game on a goal by Michael Peca of all people.
Dressed in place of Nicholas Deslauriers, Peca brought a blinding speed element to the fourth line. He also did French TV interviews and was featured in a clip playing the hotel piano on the Canadiens’ recent road trip.
Peca’s linemate, Kenny Agostino, had two assists. Let’s hope he survived that dirty Justin Williams spear late in the game. And Michael Chaput, hurt blocking a shot, went 6-1 on faceoffs.
An impressive stat: Max Domi, Jonathan Drouin and Andrew Shaw each played in excess of 20 minutes. That’s a lot for forwards.
Kotkaniemi played less than 12 minutes. But the kid won six of 10 face-offs and worked hard on every shift. His Finnish lineman, Artturi Lehkonen, continued to emerge from his scoring drought.
It was an exciting game and a splendid win to launch the Canadiens’ three-game homestand against Eastern Conference opponents.