The Habs headed outdoors to kick off their road trip for the NHL100 Classic. The game was anything but a classic as the Canadiens failed to show up and the Senators skated home with a 3-0 victory.
Montreal made one lineup change from their victory on Thursday night against the Devils, inserting defenceman Jakub Jerabek back into the lineup in place of Joe Morrow.
As is often the case in outdoor games, the pace is a bit slower and getting sustained zone time can be a challenge. Both of those were at play in the first period as neither team was able to get much going. Ottawa made a concerted effort to try to crash the net (not a bad idea either) but Carey Price did well to track the puck through the bodies and take the contact. Ottawa had the lone power play of the period and while they put on a nice passing exhibition, Montreal’s penalty kill did well to keep the play to the perimeter and didn’t let much get through. The shots on goal in the frame were 15-8 for the home side but the true scoring chances were significantly less.
Montreal’s malaise returned for the second period. An early penalty to Phillip Danault put them back on their heels and while Ottawa didn’t score, they had more pressure than on their first chance and it set the tone for the entire frame. The Habs continued to struggle to get control of the puck in the Senators zone and when they had their chances in transition, they either went offside or passed themselves out of an actual chance.
The Sens were finally able to open up the scoring towards the end of the period. Montreal was slow to react off the faceoff in their end which freed up Erik Karlsson to get a shot from the point. Jean-Gabriel Pageau continued his tendency of scoring timely goals against Montreal by redirecting it past Price who had no chance on the goal. Montreal’s netminder was sharp the rest of the period (including a highlight-reel save on a 2-on-1) to keep the deficit at one heading into the third. Shots on goal were 14-8 for the Senators.
Any hope for the Habs to break out of their funk went down in a hurry as for the second straight period, Montreal picked up a penalty on their first shift with Max Pacioretty getting called for tripping. The visitors were able to kill it off and as the period progressed, the Canadiens showed some signs of life (or something resembling it at least). Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher had good chances but Craig Anderson, who had largely been untested up to that point, shut the door.
With a little over three minutes to go, Jonathan Drouin picked up the puck behind the net and skated out with tunnel vision. Instead of making a play to a wing, he tried to skate it up the middle himself and turned it over to Bobby Ryan who outwaited Price to double the lead and seal the game. Mark Stone added an empty-netter to make it a 3-0 final.
Price made 35 saves in a losing effort while Anderson turned aside all 28 Montreal shots, including a dozen in the final frame (one where Montreal outshot the Sens 12-9). Neither team could score with the power play with the Habs going 0/1 and Ottawa 0/3.
HW Habs 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Carey Price – Price was by far the busier goalie in the game and did his best to give the Habs at least a fighting chance until the end. After a clunker last Saturday against the Oilers, this is two very strong starts in a row for Price which, coupled with his play on his return from injury, should provide some hope that the Edmonton game was the exception and not a sign of him returning to his early-season struggles.
Stats: 35 saves on 37 shots, 2.09 GAA, .946 SV%
2nd Star: Nicolas Deslauriers – On a night where the Habs were largely lethargic, Deslauriers was a rare exception. He was one of the few players to really initiate physical contact and some solid board play helped keep the puck in the offensive zone at times, something Montreal really struggled with on the night.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 5 hits, 13:24 TOI
3rd Star: Brendan Gallagher – His ice time was surprisingly limited (something that’s not smart when he’s Montreal’s leading scorer in a game where they couldn’t score) but he was effective when he was out there. Gallagher didn’t hesitate to try to get in tight on Anderson when the opportunity presented itself while he had one of the more dangerous chances in the third when the game was still close.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 3 shots, 12:46 TOI
Honourable Mention: Jeff Petry – I’d suggest that he was Montreal’s most noticeable defender and there was more good than bad. In a game where passing the puck seemed to be a challenge for the Canadiens, he was able to use his mobility to his advantage to try and offset that while he tried to be aggressive with his shot.
Stats: 0 points, -2 rating, 2 shots (5 attempts), 3 hits, 2 giveaways, 2 blocks, 24:48 TOI (team high)