The Habs went into Sunday’s game looking to put forth a much better effort than they did against Ottawa the night before. They did manage to score a goal but there weren’t many positives after that as they fell to Calgary 4-1.
The Canadiens made a trio of lineup changes for the game. Mike Condon got the start in goal although it was actually Ben Scrivens who was in the crease following the national anthem. Condon did arrive to the ice shortly thereafter and was ready for the start of the game.
In terms of the skaters, Joel Hanley because the 13th different defenceman to suit up for Montreal this year as he made his NHL debut in place of the injured Victor Bartley (lower body). Up front, Sven Andrighetto suffered an upper body injury against the Sens so Jacob de la Rose returned to the lineup; Paul Byron moved up to the top line in Andrighetto’s place.
The game got off to a similar start as Saturday as there were several minutes played before the first whistle of the night. Also similar to Saturday is that the Habs weren’t able to get much going early as they were stuck on a single shot for pretty much half the period. Condon, meanwhile, was tested early and often but made some big stops. It was a fast paced opening frame (there were only twelve whistles overall) and one that stayed scoreless throughout; Calgary had the edge in shots by a count of 10-6.
The second period was a rough one for one of the many rookies in the lineup, blueliner Darren Dietz. He took a holding penalty early on (while getting high sticked for good measure) while he also had a big hand in Calgary’s first goal of the game. He was too aggressive in his own zone and wound up taking himself out of the play which led to Joe Colborne putting one past Condon.
It looked like that was going to be the only goal of the period but the Flames struck late as Dougie Hamilton slapped a perfect pass to Sean Monahan who had a wide open net to redirect the puck past Condon with less than a minute to go.
On the Habs’ side, the second line of Eller-Plekanec-Mitchell had the best chances of the middle stanza. Eller and Plekanec had a 2-on-1 with Eller taking the shot while Plekanec had a pair of prime chances shortly after Monahan’s tally. However, neither of them were able to take advantage as the visitors head a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard after 40 minutes. They also had the edge in shots (9-8) in the period.
The third period was much of the same for the Habs. Calgary carried the play and picked up a couple more goals for their trouble from Johnny Gaudreau and Monahan. There was one small bright spot at the end as Michael McCarron picked up his first career NHL goal, ending Niklas Backstrom’s shutout bid (in his first game back in over a year) in the process.
Condon made 30 saves in the losing effort while Backstrom turned aside 21 and didn’t look too bad for a goalie who hadn’t played in so long. The Flames were 1/3 with the man advantage while the Habs didn’t score in their lone attempt which lasted just 33 seconds. At least they weren’t scored on which sadly is saying something after the Ottawa debacle.
HW Habs’ 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Michael McCarron – He scored the only goal of the weekend for the Habs. That alone should be enough to get him the first star. McCarron had a decent game overall and was more than willing to throw the body around, particularly handy against a team like Calgary who really enjoys mixing it up physically.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 2 shots, 4 hits, 3/8 faceoffs, 13:39 TOI
2nd Star: Greg Pateryn – He had a couple of risky passes but aside from that he played an effective stay-at-home game. Like McCarron, he too was more than happy to get involved in the rougher stuff, leading the Habs in hits as well. He and Nathan Beaulieu have spent some time as a pairing dating back to their days in Hamilton and they make for an intriguing duo down the stretch.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 1 shot, 8 hits, 2 giveaways, 18:49 TOI
3rd Star: Torrey Mitchell – Overlooking the fact that he played way too much (that can’t really be held against him), Mitchell stood out in a quietly effective way. He was the most energetic player on his line and had a strong night at the faceoff dot.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 2 shots, 3 hits, 6/7 faceoffs, 18:06 TOI
Honourable Mention: Andrei Markov – He logged a lot of minutes by default (there just aren’t really many options left) and held his own despite it being the second game in as many nights. Markov, like Mitchell, wasn’t noticeable often but he was still effective without standing out much.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 1 shot, 5 blocks, 27:14 TOI
Stat of the Night: 14:25 – That’s how much Joel Hanley played in his NHL debut (and did so in playing his third game in as many nights). By comparison, fellow rookies Darren Dietz and Morgan Ellis played 13:01 and 10:31 in their respective NHL debuts.