Montreal Canadiens' 5 Most Impressive Individual Performances in 2013-14
Should the Canadiens qualify for the playoffs, they will need their star players to be at their best if they hope to move on past the first round. Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek will have to lead the way, much like they have for most of the season.
A few performances like the ones in this article could help the Canadiens sustain a long playoff run this spring.
Here are the Montreal Canadiens' five most impressive individual performances in 2013-14.
5. Dustin Tokarski's 39 Saves Against Anaheim
Date: March 6, 2014
To make 39 saves and get the win against the first-place team in the NHL is impressive at any time. But it's even more impressive when it's your first NHL start in two years, and that's why Dustin Tokarski makes this list of individual performances.
With Carey Price sidelined after the Olympic break, Peter Budaj was handling the bulk of the work but Tokarski had to give him a rest at some point. No one, Tokarski included, thought it would come in Anaheim.
Michel Therrien made the surprising decision on game day to not allow the 24-year-old much time to get nervous and the move paid off.
Tokarski was excellent, turning aside 13 shots from the Ducks as Montreal built a two-goal lead in the first.
Anaheim was able to score three times during a 19-shot barrage in the second, but Tokarski made some key saves to keep the game within reach.
Brendan Gallagher tied the game late in the second period and Tokarski was perfect after that until the shootout, where Andrei Markov won it in the sixth round.
Tokarski ended up making saves on Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Getzlaf, Kyle Palmieri and Saku Koivu in the shootout. Not a bad way to earn your first win in two years.
The performance earned Tokarski more playing time and he would go on to earn his first NHL shutout 11 days later.
4. Thomas Vanek Hat Trick Versus Colorado
Date: March 18, 2014
Montreal made a big splash at the trade deadline in acquiring Thomas Vanek, one of the top names available. Naturally, he was expected to make an instant impact.
Things didn't really turn out that way, however, as Vanek struggled to the tune of one assist in his first five games with the Canadiens. Not exactly a dream start, but he made up for in a big way.
With the hockey world's attention centered around Patrick Roy's return to Montreal, it was Vanek who stole the show.
His first was a classic slump buster, as all Vanek had to do was slide the puck into an empty net after David Desharnais had drawn goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere out of position as he went to the net.
Then, with the game tied 3-3 in the third period, Vanek would take over and pot two more.
The first came at 14:45 on a play that saw Desharnais slide the puck to Max Pacioretty at the side of the net, who then made a one-touch pass to Vanek in the slot. His quick release beat Giguere and found the back of the net.
Less than three minutes later, Vanek would put the game out of reach by deflecting an Alexei Emelin point shot past Giguere.
Vanek's hat trick earned him the first star of the game and helped the Canadiens get two important points late in the season.
3. P.K. Subban 4 Points in Dallas
Date: January 2, 2014
The 2013 Norris Trophy-winning defenseman was at his best on this evening in Dallas, recording a goal and three assists to steal the show.
P.K. Subban's first point of the night came after a nice defensive play where he broke up a dangerous-looking Dallas rush. He corralled the puck, spotted Max Pacioretty up ice, and sprang him on a breakaway. Pacioretty finished by beating Kari Lehtonen with a wrist shot.
Early in the second period, Subban took the puck at the point, went through his own legs to beat a Dallas defender and then found David Desharnais in the slot with a slick back-handed feed for the goal. It was one of Subban's prettiest passes of the season.
Subban would then get himself into the goal-scoring column at 6:30 of the second with a great solo effort. He grabbed the puck in the offensive corner, deked his way into the slot, then outwaited a Stars defender and the goaltender before firing it home.
He would record his fourth point late in the game by lifting a puck high out of his zone before Pacioretty picked it up and fired it into an empty net.
Subban's final stats included the four points, two shots, a plus-three rating and six hits in 23:52 of ice time in what was his best game of the season.
2. Max Pacioretty Hat Trick Against Minnesota
Date: November 19, 2013
Going into this tilt against the Minnesota Wild, Max Pacioretty had just two goals in 12 games. It was another prolonged slump for Pacioretty, raising questions as to whether or not he could truly be an elite scorer in the NHL.
But sometimes a goal scorer just needs a lucky bounce to help bust a slump and that's exactly what happened to Pacioretty.
His first of the night came at 2:57 of the second period when David Desharnais' pass bounced off his leg and in as he drove to the net. A flukey goal, but exactly what Pacioretty needed at the time.
Less than eight minutes later, Desharnais made a sweet behind-the-back pass to find Pacioretty open in the slot, who then fired a wrist shot past Harding.
The Canadiens' top goal scorer would complete the natural hat trick on his very next shift, tipping in a P.K. Subban shot for his third of the period.
Pacioretty finished the evening with three points, a plus-two rating and 10 shots on goal.
1. Carey Price 40 Saves Against Ottawa
Date: January 16, 2014
Carey Price's box-score statistics from this game are solid, but certainly not spectacular. He did get the win, but he gave up four goals against on 44 shots.
Yet there are times when the box score doesn't tell the game's story and this was certainly the case on January 16. Price turned in his best effort of the season on this night. In fact, it was perhaps the single best goaltending performance of the 2013-14 NHL season.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Ottawa Senators attacked the Montreal net furiously, firing 38 shots at Price in the final two frames alone.
Price was forced to make a series of incredible saves in the second period, including beauties on Milan Michalek, Bobby Ryan and Mark Stone. All three were highlight-of-the-night material.
The Canadiens star goaltender's heroics got this game to overtime, where P.K. Subban delivered the winning goal and two points for the Habs. It was an incredible performance from Price.