Canadiens score three in third, beat Jets 4-2
Montreal Canadiens' David Desharnais (51) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (31) and Mark Stuart (5) during third period NHL action in Winnipeg on Thursday, April 25, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Published Thursday, April 25, 2013 9:40PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:32PM EDT
MONTREAL--The Montreal Canadiens scored three straight goals in the third period to beat the Jets 4-2, just moments after the Jets learned that they had been eliminated from playoff contention with news that both of its rivals had won their games.
Max Pacioretty scored his 15th goal of the season on a wrist shot from the circle to give the Canadiens a 4-2 lead. The puck bounced off goaltender Ondej Pavelec's shoulder and into the net at the 10:50 mark of the third period.
P.K. Subban recorded an assist on the play, giving him 38 points in 40 games, top amongst NHL defencemen.
The goal was the Habs third marker of the period and came on the heels of David Desharnais' go-ahead goal, scored on a five-on-three powerplay at 7:57 of the third period, which gave the Canadiens a 3-2 lead.
The goal was Desharnais' 10th of the season and only his second in 20 games. It came off assists by P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, who had controlled the puck effectively throughout the man-advantage.
Brendan Gallagher had scored the tying goal, his 14th of the season, at 2:07 of the third period as he blasted a slapshot from well-out which handcuffed Pavelec, who was on his knees.
The puck bounced off the goaltender’s left shoulder upwards before bouncing slowly into the net, leaving the two teams tied 2-2.
Lars Eller, who registered his 20th assist on the play, fell heavily into the boards behind the Winnipeg net a split second after the goal went in, but appeared to have averted serious injury.
The Winnipeg Jets had taken a 2-1 over the Canadiens at 14:43 of the second period after Blake Wheeler stabbed at a puck which somehow slipped under a sprawling Carey Price, who had stopped the intial point shot from Dustin Byfuglien.
It was a bittersweet moment for the Jets, as the goal was scored around the same time that the Jets were officially eliminated from playoff contention, as news of victories by both the Rangers and Senators floated in.
The Jets' go-ahead goal came after Rene Bourque notched the score at 1-1 at 9:54 of the second period in another mad goalmouth scramble which saw goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and two defencemen all lying down in the crease.
Bourque's goal, his seventh of the season, came after a marathon of sustained pressure brought by a unit of Bouillon-Tinordi-Eller-Galchenyuk and Bourque. The assists went to Alex Galcheyuk and Lars Eller.
A few moments later, Jets’ forward Blake Wheeler had a clear breakaway after P.K. Subban stumbled with a puck at the opposition blueline. Price made a spectacular glove save on Wheeler's high wrist shot and then kept the puck from trickling over the line with his left hand as he fell down on his back.
It was just the Jets seventh shot of the game. But they soon picked up speed and pressured the Canadiens defence for the rest of the period.
Low scoring centre James Wright staked the Jets to a 1-0 lead at 9:10 of the first period after Francis Boullion blew a tire and left goalie Carey Price vulnerable.
Wright lifted a high shot on the glove side past Price on an assist by Chris Thorburn,
It was only Wright’s fourth goal in 87 NHL games. Thorburn’s assist was only his second of the season and his fourth point in 42 games.
The Canadiens outshot the Jets 8-5 in the first frame but goaltender Ondrej Pavelec turned back all shots in the first, including a few dangerous attempts during a Canadiens power play.
The Habs outshot the Jets 11-9 in the second period and 30-25 overall.
The Canadiens did not make up any ground on the division-leading Boston Bruins, who beat Tampa Bay 2-0. Both teams now have 61 points but the Bruins have two more games to play while the Habs only have one.
The Canadiens finish their season Saturday in Toronto against the Leafs, a team which beat the Panthers in Florida 4-0 Thursday.
The fourth-place Canadiens could very likely be playing the fifth-place Leafs for at least four more games after that, as the two teams look likely to lock horns in the first round of the playoffs.
The Habs' victory assured them of a top-four finish in the conference, thereby assuring the team of home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.