The Montreal Canadiens improved to an impressive 16-4-2 record after overcoming the Red Wings 2-1 in overtime Saturday night. Through 63 minutes the Habs never held a lead, but they came away with two points thanks to goals by Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. Carey Price, now 13-1-1 on the year, turned away 32 of 33 shots for the win, bringing his save percentage up to .946 with a 1.66 goals against average.
The game fit a familiar pattern for the Canadiens; their last 7 games have all been decided by just one goal. In 22 games the Habs are the only team to have played more than 600 minutes with the score tied, about 27:15 per game.
But the Habs do more than just play in tight games. More often than not this year they’ve won them. While 3 of their 4 regulation losses this season have come by 1 goal, and two more losses post-regulation, the Habs have won 7 1-goal games, and have 10 wins total by two goals or less.
Breaking ties in their favour has also become somewhat of a specialty. In 22 games so far the Habs have scored first 16 times, second only to the Washington Capitals. They’ve scored a league high 30 goals with the game tied, and allowed just 13 goals against.
And why shouldn’t the Habs feel comfortable in a tie game with Carey Price to back them up when play does wind up in their end? As good as his .946 save percentage is, Price posts even better numbers with the score tied. This season in 461 minutes played with the game tied, Price has a .962 save percentage, having allowed just 8 goals against on 211 shots.
The Habs also seem confident in the ability of their leaders to get the job done with the game on the line. Max Pacioretty leads forwards league-wide with 142 minutes played while tied at 5 on 5, and Shea Weber leads all skaters with just over 187 minutes of ice time. Even the bottom end of the Habs lineup has been solid in tight situations. Philip Danault and Torrey Mitchell lead the team in shots for percentage at even strength, both checking in around 58.5%.
Keeping games close might work well for the Habs in the regular season, but it’s also a questionable strategy for the playoffs, when the competition gets a lot tougher. What are your thoughts? Do you like it when the Habs are tied or does it worry you?