MONTREAL – Cedrick Desjardins couldn’t have asked for a better Bell Centre debut and he’s hoping it’s the first of many more games to come in front of Montreal fans.
Brock Trotter and Tom Pyatt each scored twice and Desjardins made 16 saves for his sixth shutout of the season as the Hamilton Bulldogs downed the Adirondack Phantoms 5-0 in American Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.
Desjardins moved into second place in the AHL with a 1.96 goals-against average, his .924 save percentage is third-best in the league and his six shutouts rank second behind Manchester’s Jonathan Bernier, a Los Angeles Kings prospect.
Those are lofty numbers for someone passed over in the NHL draft who has made his way through the ECHL after signing a free agent deal with the Montreal Canadiens.
With the well-documented goaltending battle in Montreal between Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price, Desjardins’ future with the organization could change drastically after the March 3 NHL trade deadline should Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier decide to trade one of his two goalies, something he has said he doesn’t want to do.
But Desjardins says he is trying not to think about something that is completely out of his hands.
“I’m a fan of the Canadiens as well so obviously I hear all the talk (about the goalies), but I can’t control any of that,” Desjardins said. “I have to make sure I take care of what I’m doing here (with Hamilton). All four goalies in the organization will need new contracts at the end of the season. Personally, I want to leave no doubt in the minds of everyone in the organization.”
Grant Stevenson also scored while David Desharnais added two assists for the Bulldogs (36-14-8), who won for the ninth time in their last 12 games in front of a crowd of 15,529 at the Bell Centre.
Desharnais, Pyatt and rookie defenceman P.K. Subban were with the Canadiens and were sent back down to Hamilton with the onset of the Olympic break in the NHL. With some injured players expected to return to the Canadiens lineup coming out of the break, it’s unlikely all three will back in Montreal when the season gets started again on March 1.
Pyatt has six points in his last two games and Desharnais has five, but they know that doesn’t necessarily mean the Habs will come calling a week from now.
“Trotter, Pyatt and I have been playing well as a line recently,” Desharnais said. “They didn’t tell me whether or not I’ll be back up after the break, but we just have to keep doing what we’re doing so we’ll be ready if they need anyone.”
The Phantoms (26-27-4) lost their second straight and their eighth in 12 games.
Pyatt opened the scoring at 18:25 of the first on Hamilton’s fourth shot of the game. Pyatt beat six-foot-six Phantoms defenceman Joey Mormina in a battle for the puck behind the net before sweeping a wraparound in off the far post for his 12th of the season.
Trotter got both his goals in the first and last minute of the second period.
He converted a great Desharnais feed at 0:46 of the middle frame and then stole the puck off Phantoms defender Rob Bellamy before surprising Adirondack goalie Johan Backlund with a quick shot at 19:13 for his 28th of the season.
The Bulldogs special teams provided two goals in the third to ice it.
Stevenson converted a Pyatt feed on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break for his fifth of the season at 9:59, while Pyatt got his second of the game and 13th of the season on a wrister from the faceoff circle at 15:09 for a power-play goal and a 5-0 Bulldogs lead.
Note: Bulldogs D Yannick Weber missed his fifth game since joining the Swiss Olympic team…Bulldogs winger Max Pacioretty missed his fourth game with a groin injury…