Canadiens Game Day: Habs-Bruins rivalry alive and well again

Canadiens Game Day: Habs-Bruins rivalry alive and well again
Saturday NHL odds: Canadiens, Leafs both betting favourites
Share Share The Montreal Canadiens fourth line quietly dominated the night in Buffalo tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports The Montreal Canadiens havent had a ton of things that have drawn the ire of head coach Claude Julien so far this season. The biggest burr in the saddle for Julien has been the fourth line in recent weeks. His one wish was for them to go out there and not get scored on.

After a drubbing in New Jersey, the newly formed line of Michael Chaput, Kenny Agostino, and Nicolas Deslauriers heard their coachs words loud and clear.

NOTES: Domi had a 12-game point streak snapped. It was the longest by a Canadiens player since Pierre Turgeon had a 13-game streak in April 1995. … Sabres D Marco Scandella returned after missing one game with a lower-body injury. … Canadiens F Matthew Peca moved back into the lineup, replacing Charles Hudon at left wing on the third line. Peca centred Montreals fourth line before being scratched for Wednesdays 5-2 loss in New Jersey. … D Brett Kulak made his Canadiens debut after being called up from the minors on Thursday. Kulak and D Karl Alzner entered the lineup in place of Mike Reilly and Xavier Ouellet.

Sabres beat Habs; push win streak to 8

The fourth line punched in a shift-and-a-half in Buffalo, and did so against a white-hot Sabres top line that features both Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel; not exactly an easy matchup. On their first shift opposite Eichels trio, they hemmed the Sabres in the defensive zone. Then it happened again. And at times after that. Sitting in the stands, I wasnt sure if I was seeing things, or if the fourth line was playing incredibly well.

Based on the eye test, and the advanced metrics after the game, the Canadiens fourth line absolutely dominated the Sabres. All three forwards posted Corsi-for percentages of 64% or higher, with Chaputt cashing in at 73.9%.

Mittelstadt scored off a rebound with 7:21 remaining in the opening period. Conor Sheary deflected McCabes shot from the point off the right post and Mittelstadt reached in from the right edge of the crease to sweep the puck across the goal line.

This is a huge step for this group to build upon, especially with Paul Byron and Joel Armia still out injured. The Canadiens were very much in need of a group they could trust in this situation.

Shaws power-play goal gave Montreal a 2-1 lead 8:18 into the third period. Danault won a faceoff in the Sabres zone and Shaw deflected David Schlemkos slap shot past Hutton five seconds after Jason Pominville went to penalty box for holding.

They forechecked fiercely, forcing the Sabres into making mistakes, and even without the skill of the other forward groups, they put the puck into dangerous spots. Agostino in particular showed off plenty of slick moves with his hands, and Deslauriers no-nonsense drive-the-net game works as a complement to that. They did everything they needed to in this game, except for scoring a goal, and it goes without saying that they badly wanted to light the lamp.

Skinner scored both of his goals on rebound chances near the front of the net. The top-line winger acquired in an off-season trade with Carolina has 17 goals, tied with David Pastrnak for the league lead.

If this trio continues to play well, it might stabilize a weak spot, and forces a tough choice to be made on Matthew Peca. Its hard to break this line up after that performance, and they can solidify themselves as the go-to option if they can continue their strong effort on Saturday evening.

Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw (65) is congratulated for his goal during the third period of the teams NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

“We lost a big point,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We minimized the scoring chances against a team thats doing well. We were in a good spot until the final few minutes.”

The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to claim their first home victory over Boston in over two years when they take on the Bruins on Saturday as -125 favourites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Under is 4-0-1 in Bruins last 5 Saturday games and under is 3-0-1 in Bruins last 4 vs. Atlantic and under is 4-0-1 in Bruins last 5 games playing on 0 days rest. Over is 7-0 in Canadiens last 7 in the third game of a 3-in-4 days situation and over is 6-0 in Canadiens last 6 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 days situation and Canadiens are 1-8 in their last 9 in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation. Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings and Bruins are 6-1 in the last 7 meetings and Bruins are 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Montreal. 

Montreal picked up a 3-0 victory at TD Garden as a +155 underdog on October 27, ending a six-game slide against its divisional rival, but has dropped three straight to Boston on home ice ahead of Saturday night’s matchup at Bell Centre.

The Montreal Canadiens have followed a two game winning streak with three consecutive defeats following a 3-2 overtime loss at Buffalo on Friday. The Canadiens saw scoring from Brenden Gallagher and Andrew Shaw with Antti Niemi stopping 37 shots to secure the point for the Canadiens.  Jeff Skinner and Casey Mittelstadt scored in regulation for Buffalo with Skinner scoring his second at 3:01 of the extra session. Carter Hutton picked up the win for the Sabres with two goals given up on 33 shots.

The Canadiens have struggled to score during the recent slump against Boston. Montreal has been held to one or fewer goals in five of its last seven meetings with the Bruins, and has averaged just 1.66 goals per game over its past six matchups with Boston on home ice.

However, the Canadiens have managed to score with regularity on home ice this month. Montreal has averaged 4.2 goals per game while picking up at least a point in four of five home contests, generating a 4-1 run for the OVER in totals betting, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Owners of one of the NHL’s best road records last season, the Bruins have struggled on the road this season, compiling a middling 4-4-4 record, and have tallied just seven total goals while posting a single victory over their past seven away dates.

Boston remains neck-and-neck with Montreal at the top of the Eastern Conference wild card race, but the Bruins have seen their Stanley Cup odds take a hit during the first seven weeks of the campaign, dipping from +1200 to +1600.

Elsewhere on the NHL Saturday odds, the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Philadelphia Flyers as -160 home betting favourites, while the Winnipeg Jets travel to St. Louis as slim -120 favourites, and the Vancouver Canucks open a home-and-home series with the Los Angeles Kings as +135 road underdogs.

While the Maple Leafs continue to lead the way as +460 favourites on the Stanley Cup odds, they have struggled in recent clashes with Philadelphia. Toronto dropped all three meetings with the Flyers last season, and nine of their past 15 meetings on home ice.

But the Maple Leafs return home from a two-game road trip looking to extend their three-game win streak at Scotiabank Arena, while the Flyers are pegged as +135 underdogs after ending a four-game slide with a 4-0 win over the visiting New York Rangers as -165 chalk on Friday afternoon.