The Montreal Canadiens used a three goal outburst early in the third period to skate away with a much needed and rare home victory over the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
Lars Eller’s four goals paced the Habs while the line of Eller, Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen combined for 10 points on the night.
Leading by a goal entering the third period, Eller’s second of the game at 2:41 gave the club a huge momentum boost and they were able to capitalize on that momentum 22 seconds later on Michael Cammalleri’s ninth of the season.
With the Bell Centre crowd already in a frenzy, Eller completed his first career hat-trick 28 seconds after the Cammalleri tally, but his night wasn’t quite done yet. The Danish forward scored a beautiful spin-o-rama goal on a penalty shot after he was hauled down on a breakaway by Jets defenceman Ron Hainsey.
Coming into the game in the basement of the Northeast division, Montreal badly needed two points as they had fallen dangerously close to last place in the East.
For the Jets, it was another poor road outing in what has become an all too common theme this season.
Owners of one of the league’s best home records, the Jets haven’t been able to sustain that same success away from the MTS Centre and saw their road record drop to 5-9-4.
In their previous road contest, a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche, the Jets played arguably their most complete road game of the season but tonight they were unable to do the things that made them successful in that game. The club didn’t look comfortable from the opening faceoff as sloppy in-zone coverage and giveaways from both the defence and the forwards resulted in a number of Montreal goals.
Winnipeg got goals from Tim Stapleton, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd in the loss and had actually given themselves a chance to try and steal the game on Wheeler’s power-play goal late in the second period, but the early barrage of Montreal goals quickly put that hope to rest.
The Jets will need to put this one behind them as they will jump on a plane and head to Toronto where they will meet the Leafs on Thursday night.
Having defeated Toronto just a few nights ago on New Years Eve, the Jets should be expecting a big effort from their opponents, especially with both teams continuing to battle one another for playoff position in the conference.