By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press on January 11, 2017.
WINNIPEG – Phillip Danault’s coast-to-coast goal Wednesday impressed his Montreal Canadiens teammates.
Danault went the distance down the ice untouched on the way to his second goal in Montreal’s dominating 7-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
“I didn’t see the beginning how it started, but I only saw the halfway,” said Habs rookie Artturi Lehkonen, who also scored twice and added an assist.
“It looked like he had no trouble at all. He was just flying through the neutral zone and somebody was saying, ‘It’s that young Mario Lemieux.'”
Danault’s unassisted goal on the high glove side of Michael Hutchinson at 4:31 of the second period gave Montreal the 5-2 lead.
Al Montoya, playing against his former team, made 22 saves for the Canadiens (26-10-6). He’s now won three straight starts.
Connor Hellebuyck allowed three goals on seven shots in his sixth straight start before being replaced by Hutchinson late in the first period. He stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced.
“We were (bad) from the start, from the drop of that first puck right to the very end,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice summed up.
The game won’t be quickly forgotten, he vowed.
“We aren’t sweeping this one under the rug,” Maurice said. “We’re going to take a good look at all of it and make sure we appreciate the value of playing in the National Hockey League and playing a game at home and the cost every NHL game demands, the willingness to pay that price.”
Danault and Brian Flynn gave Montreal a 2-0 lead four minutes into the game on the team’s second and third shots. Tomas Plekanec and Sven Andrighetto, with his first of the season, also had goals for the Canadiens. Shea Weber had a pair of assists, while Andrighetto and Flynn each added a helper.
Mark Scheifele scored twice, Mathieu Perreault had a goal and assist and Bryan Little tallied his seventh of the season for Winnipeg (20-21-3). Drew Stafford picked up a pair of assists.
Danault couldn’t recall when, or if, he’s ever scored an end-to-end goal at any level.
“My first one in the AHL against Buffalo was good, too, but one coast to coast like that, I don’t think I’ve (done that). Maybe junior, back in the day,” Danault, 23, said.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien viewed the goal as a rare feat.
“You don’t see those types of goals very often in the NHL,” he said. “For the young kid, it’s good for his confidence. He’s playing really well.”
Danault began the game’s scoring 57 seconds into the first period after the Jets lost a rebound, drawing loud cheers from fans clad in Montreal jerseys.
Flynn made it 2-0 at 4:19, but Scheifele recorded his 18th goal of the season at 6:07.
The Jets then tied it 2-2 at 12:58 with Blake Wheeler’s patient pass to Perreault as he was skating to the front of net, but Montreal regained the lead 1:03 later when Plekanec took advantage of a loose puck behind the Jets’ net and quickly fired in a shot at 14:01. The goal signalled the end of Hellebuyck’s night in net.
“Every time we came back, it just seemed like it was going in the net,” Wheeler said. “We just didn’t do a good enough job picking up our guys and gave up a little too much.”
After Maurice called a timeout, Scheifele scored a power-play goal at 5:06 of the second. Nikolaj Ehlers assisted, extending his point streak to six games with five goals and three assists.
The Jets only had three shots on goal in the second period, with the Canadiens outshooting them 20-13.
Lehkonen tipped a goal through traffic at 4:10 of the third and then scored 11 seconds into a power play for the 7-3 margin at 9:05. Little finished the scoring at 10:04 with a shot through Montoya’s pads.
Montreal travels to Minnesota to take on the Wild on Thursday night, while the Jets embark on a three-game road trip starting Friday in Arizona.
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