The Winnipeg Jets ran into a Carey Price that was much sharper than in his last visit to Bell MTS Place.
The Montreal Canadiens goalie made 34 saves in his 700th career game as the Habs won 4-2 Monday night to spoil the start of the Jets’ short two-game homestand.
It was back on February 25 in Winnipeg when Price allowed five goals and sported an .828 save percentage in a 6-3 Jets win.
But Monday, his .944 save percentage was more than good enough to give the Habs their second consecutive win against the Jets after a 7-1 drubbing just a little over a week ago.
The Jets had 14 giveaways in the game, and three of them turned directly into Canadiens’ goals.
“The three that are in their net, we’ve got them on our stick,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “They’re quick and they got good sticks, right. They don’t pressure with a whole lot of physicality, they pressure with some quickness, and they knock an awful lot of pucks down. Part of that is hand skills, the kinda players that they have, but we would think we got to do more with the pucks that we had on our stick that ended up in our net.”
Kyle Connor scored both of the Jets’ markers on the powerplay to give him 14 goals for the season to tie Nikolaj Ehlers for the team lead.
“I like our offensive game,” said Connor. “We could of had a guy at net-front a little more once we get it to the point, but other than that, we’re moving well, reading off each other and getting it to behind the net. That’s our game. That’s what we’re successful at.
“But zero 5-on-5 goals, so we can still improve.”
“We were able at times to get the puck deep and work their defenceman, and get on them,” said Ehlers. “We got to get better at getting those rims up in the glass, so the goalie doesn’t stop it. It gives us a better chance of keeping that puck down low.”
The Canadiens scored the lone first period goal off the stick of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and would add to the lead in the second period on the powerplay thanks to Josh Anderson.
The Jets would get a PP goal of their own later in the period from Connor who slid one through the legs of Price.
But later in the middle frame, a brutal Neal Pionk giveaway sent Tyler Toffoli in all alone as he scored his 16th of the season.
Connor would again score with the man advantage just under six minutes into the third, his 14th of the season, to cut the lead down to one.
But Toffoli would seal the game for the Habs with an empty-netter with 48 seconds remaining, his second of the game and 17th of the season. He also had an assist for a three-point night.
Connor Hellebuyck finished with 27 saves.
The Jets (17-9-2) remain tied for second place in the North Division with the Edmonton Oilers as both teams are four points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Montreal (13-8-7) moved within three points of both teams with the victory.
The two teams meet again Wednesday night as the Jets close out the brief homestand. The pregame show begins on 680 CJOB at 6 p.m. with puck drop scheduled for just after 8 p.m.
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