Second-period surge carries Montreal Canadiens past the Winnipeg Jets in 7-1 romp

·4 min read

MONTREAL — Jets captain Blake Wheeler's plan after Saturday's 7-1 blowout loss to the Montreal Canadiens was short and simple.

"I think you just take a shower, get on the plane and get the heck out of town," he said.

Form was turned on its head at the Bell Centre as Montreal finally found a way to get past the Jets.

Montreal (11-6-6) was coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to Winnipeg and had won just one of its last seven — a stretch that included three losses (two in overtime) to the Jets.

Winnipeg (15-8-1) had won two straight and six of its last seven. But that form was not on display Saturday.

"We had a tough night here. We've got an entire hockey team that has a minus on them," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "Both goalies played, so at the very least it was well spread out."

"That's certainly not the definition of our team, so we'll move on and get ready for the next one," he added.

The Jets, on a five-game road trip, open a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday.

After Josh Anderson gave the Habs a 1-0 first-period lead, Brendan Gallagher scored twice in a four-goal second-period surge.

Tyler Toffoli, Joel Armia, Paul Byron and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal. Gallagher (two goals and an assist) and Tomas Tatar (three assists) each had three-point nights.

Saturday's game was the fifth under interim Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme, who is now 2-1-2 at the helm. Four of the games were against Winnipeg.

"I was really happy for them," Ducharme said of his players. "They put in so much. Those guys care a lot ... It won't be like that every night, but to be rewarded like our players go rewarded tonight, I think it's good for them because they put in the work."

Winnipeg outshot Montreal 29-28, with a 12-7 edge in the third.

Trailing 7-0, Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault finally beat Carey Price with a power-play goal at 11:14 of the third.

"He looked really set and ready to receive everything coming at him," Ducharme said of Price.

"He's working on his game and he's been for a while now," he added. "When you have a goalie that talented, that is willing to work on his game like he does, I mean obviously at one point you know it's going to turn around."

The Canadiens fired director of goaltending Stephane Waite on Tuesday, replacing him with Sean Burke.

At the other end, Connor Hellebuyck was pulled in the second period after the Habs' fourth goal. He stopped 15 of 19 shots.

"It was just one of those nights where the puck was bouncing all over for us and wasn't settling for us and it was settling for them," Hellebuyck said.

Returning after a three-game absence due to a lower-body injury. Anderson started on a line with Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Anderson took advantage of a fortuitous bounce after Kotkaniemi, fighting for the puck in the Winnipeg end, fired the puck into the corner. Hellebuyck went behind the goal to corral the puck but it hit the entrance used by the ice cleaner and bounced back in front of goal. Anderson, Johnny-on-the-spot, knocked it into the empty net past defenceman Nathan Beaulieu at 15:29 for his 10th of the season.

"Throughout the season there's going to be nights like that," Wheeler said of the ill fortune. "More often than not, the bounces are going to even out. Tonight they didn't.

"But then again, you've got to give them credit. They were a desperate team. They're trying to get on a roll here and they made their opportunities count."

After Kotkaniemi won a faceoff in the Winnipeg end, Jets defenceman Tucker Poolman had a chance to clear but only sent the puck to the blue line. Shea Weber poked it back towards the slot where Toffoli's high wrist shot beat Hellebuyck for his 15th of the season at 7:03 of the second.

Failure to clear the puck cost Winnipeg again less than four minutes later with Gallagher knocking Phillip Danault's no-look cross-ice pass into a gaping net. Gallagher, left alone on Hellebuyck's doorstep, then made it 4-0 at 14:25 with his 10th of the season after the Habs hemmed the Jets in their own zone.

Laurent Brossoit took over in the Winnipeg goal and was promptly beaten by Armia's low wrist shot at 16:05 after a Montreal rush up the ice that drew hardly a challenge.

Byron made it 6-0 at 4:20 of the third, backhanding a fat rebound home after Brossoit failed to handle a long-distance shot from Jake Evans. Seconds earlier Jets forward Trevor Lewis was hit on the hand by a Nate Thompson shot.

Petry added to the Jets' pain at 8:20 with a wrist shot through traffic from the blue line.

Montreal starts a six-game road trip Monday with the first of two straight in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021

The Canadian Press