Carey Price’s return to the lineup on Thursday night was a welcome sight for fans and teammates alike, but less so for the Coyotes as the Canadiens won 5-2. Given his last NHL start was November 25th, I’m sure the Habs coaches, management, trainers and medical staff were equally happy to see him back in the lineup.
Before the game began, the Canadiens announced that defenceman Zach Redmond suffered from a broken foot during practice and will be out around 6 weeks. The news may have solidified rookie Mikhail Sergachev’s sticking around in Montreal this season, given that Greg Pateryn is now the only spare defenceman active with the pro club now.
During the first period, David Desharnais centering the third line, had a strong first shift for that line which generated a couple of good scoring chances. A few scoring chances were had for each team in the first 5 minutes. At around the 6:40 mark, Alexei Emelin tried a Subbanesque pinch from the point, wound up and blasted the puck past a screened Arizona goaltender. It was his first goal in 86 games! Give kudos to Andrew Shaw who stood in front to block the goalies view on the goal. David Desharnais set up the goal with a fine pass.
In the second period, the tempo of the game picked up significantly. After the first two minutes during a 4-4 situation, Nathan Beaulieu made a nice cross ice feed to Torrey Mitchell, who blasted a one timer into the net. Later in the period, Andrei Markov set up Shea Weber for a cannon shot from the point, to pad the Habs lead to 3-0. The power play goal was hopefully the first of many to come from the man-mountain Habs defender. Less than two minutes later, Alex Galchenyuk started a turnover play in the Coyotes zone on a strong turnover, which lead to Galchenyuk scoring the Habs 4th goal. Less than a minute later (and after a goalie change), the Coyotes responded on a scrambly play in the Habs crease, with rookie defenceman Jacob Chychrun scoring his first NHL goal. Near the 16 minute of the period, Beaulieu coughed up the puck in front of his own net while on a power play, which lead to Arizona scoring a short handed goal. Montreal ended the period with 20 shots on goal.
The third period was less spirited than the second. In the first ten minutes, each time had a few scoring opportunities but nothing very remarkable. A little after 12 minutes passed, rookie Artturi Lehkonen scored his second goal of the season, and enjoyed hearing the hometown Montreal crowd cheer him loudly for his efforts.
HW Habs 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Shea Weber – Weber’s first goal as a Canadien was a nice power play marker. Weber also provided a few key hits against the Coyotes, while leading the team in ice time again. The guy played a very consistent game with very few mistakes, and added an assist too.
Stats: 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +3, 5 shots on goal, 25:28 TOI
2nd Star: Torrey Mitchell – Mitchell scored a beautiful one timer of a shot, surprising the goaltender with his shooting skill. On defence Mitchell along with his linemates kept forechecking the opposition most of the game, spending more time deep in Arizona’s than in their own.
Stats: 1 Goal, +1, 1 shot on goal, 13:19 TOI
3rd Star: Alexei Emelin – Emelin scored the opening goal, a beauty of a blast from this defensive oriented defender. On defence, Alexei laid out a couple of opponents with huge hits in the first period, which helped set the tone for the game.
Stats: 1 Goal, +1, 2 shots on goal, 17:21 TOI
Honourable Mention: Paul Byron – Byron provided two assists on the first two goals of the game. He bounced between the third and fourth lines during the game and fit in seamlessly. His two points tied Tomas Plekanec and Weber for offensive output during the game, while Byron had the lowest amount of ice time among Habs forwards.
Stats: 2 assists, +1, 11:39 TOI