The Canadiens were back in action Thursday night, hoping to extend what was a three-game winning streak. Playing their second game in as many nights made the game quite sloppy at times, but it was a nice break for fans who don’t necessarily enjoy the 2-1 chess matches. No, this contest was an offensive barrage, with the Habs coming out on top 6-3. With Carey Price finally giving up more than a goal, it was nice to see the rest of the team in front of him pick it up and score some goals. That the scoring was dispersed through the top three lines was icing on the cake as even the questionable decision to play Jacob de la Rose (in place of the injured Jonathan Drouin) with Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Byron proved to be a wise choice.
As the game started and was only a few minutes old, Detroit was sent to the penalty box. The Red Wings surprisingly had better scoring opportunities over the first minute and a half of the man advantage. Despite this lack of execution, Montreal scored on a completely broken play with three seconds left in the power play. Recently recalled Daniel Carr dropped the puck to Max Pacioretty at the top of the zone. Pacioretty took a low percentage shot that Brendan Gallagher was able to deflect past Jimmy Howard.
A minute later, Anthony Mantha fired a puck from a near impossible angle. The puck hit Victor Mete and fooled Carey Price to bring the game back to the starting point. A few seconds after this second odd goal of the period, Phillip Danault was sent to the box for high sticking. David Schlemko and Byron Froese put on a shot-blocking clinic to keep the Wings from taking the lead. Montreal would then get a break as Henrik Zetterberg fired the puck off the ice for a delay of game call. The Montreal man advantage was as disorganized as their first and was easily shut down by the Wings on this occasion. The Habs cost themselves momentum there, and a few moments later, de la Rose would be sent to the box for holding. On the ensuing man advantage, the Wings took control of the play and Tomas Tatar fired one home through the effective Justin Abdelkader screen. This lead would last until the end of the period, as the Habs returned to the locker room with an early deficit in score and shots, being outshot 13-6.
The second period was much better for the Canadiens even it didn’t start that way. Montreal came out aggressively as Charles Hudon was called for interference. It was a call that Claude Julien did not appreciate, but it appeared to be the right call on the replay. The Habs’ aggressiveness paid off as they were successful at killing the penalty. After killing this penalty, the Canadiens really started taking the play to the Red Wings and they would eventually be rewarded after both Paul Byron and Jeff Petry were turned away by Howard. With to play, 15:14 left to play, Mete broke out of the Montreal zone with some nice hands. He found Charles Hudon who repeatedly played give-and-go with Gallagher, until they made it to the net, when Hudon would eventually find Gallagher’s rebound to tie the game.
45 seconds later, Danault found a streaking Shaw who was given far too much time as he roofed the puck over Howard’s shoulder for a 3-2 lead. The Habs were not satisfied with this lead as they continued to play mostly in the Detroit zone as they eventually forced the Wings to take a penalty. This power play would be as ineffective as the others on the night, but this would not discourage the Canadiens as they would extend their lead with 2:11 to go. After a Schlemko shot was tipped by Galchenyuk but saved by Howard, de la Rose found the rebound and lured two defenders before finding Galchenyuk again who this time made no mistake to allow Montreal to retreat with a 4-2 lead at the end of the period.
The third period continued the three goals per period of this game, once again favouring the Canadiens as they were able to pull away. The first half of the period was much quieter for the Habs as Detroit made their last push to get back into this game. Their efforts would yield very little, and with 11:25 to go, Gallagher finally broke this game open when completing his second tip-in of the game, this goal’s source being Jeff Petry. This goal zapped any energy that was left in the Red Wings as they appeared to be going through the motions from that point forward.
Montreal was pleased to trap things and allow time to expire for much of the period. With five minutes to play, Jakub Jerabek showed some nice poise with the puck in the Detroit zone leading to a Montreal power play. Pacioretty completed the scoring for the Habs on this night on this man advantage. Petry took a shot from the blueline with two screens in front of the net. Howard gave out the rebound as both Pacioretty and Shaw poked at the loose puck. The last Hab to touch the puck was Pacioretty before the Wings’ defender pushed it into his own net.
With the game firmly out of reach, Tomas Plekanec was sent to the sin bin for slashing. On the man advantage, Frans Nielsen picked up his own rebound to beat a sprawled Price. Both teams continued to play softly after the Nielsen goal, happy to end this night and find themselves in Montreal in 48 hours.
HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star – Brendan Gallagher
What else is new in 2017-2018? The little warrior paved the way, scoring the first goal, assisting on the second, and finally extending the lead in the third which broke the momentum built by the Wings in the third period. In addition to the great offensive season, Gallagher remains a pest, spending most of his time in high traffic areas and taking hits to make plays. Hard to believe many thought it was a promising idea to trade this player prior to the season.
Stats: 2 goals, 1 assist, +2, 3 shots, 1 hit, 15:20 T.O.I.
2nd Star – David Schlemko
Let’s not mistake Schlemko for Shea Weber. Now that this is out of the way, Schlemko deserves a ton of credit for two excellent games to start his career in Montreal. He’s not flashy, but effective. While this much was expected defensively, his poise with the puck has been a pleasant surprise thus far. I would go as far as making the case that what is being seen from Schlemko is basically what I expected from Alzner when the signing was announced. The two-game sample remains too small to make an informed evaluation, but giving props for two good games by a player returning from injury is appropriate. He didn’t earn a point, but he was responsible for some important break outs, and likely deserved an assist on the Galchenyuk tally.
Stats: 0 points, +2, 2 blocked shots, 20:02 T.O.I.
3rd Star – Jeff Petry
Petry continues his stellar play in the absence of Weber. Once again tonight, he quietly racked up two points and 25 minutes of ice time. It’s not perfect, but as the #1 defender by default, it’s more than acceptable. If only he’d be as physical as he was in his first quarter season with the team, he’d be the whole package.
Stats: 2 assists, +1, 1 shot, 1 hit, 2 blocked shots, 25:13 T.O.I.
Honourable Mention: Carey Price
It wasn’t quite on par with 100 saves on 102 shots. Price was fighting it a bit more as he overplayed some pucks and even got caught cheating on the initial Anthony Mantha goal. What was seen tonight from Price is what fans praised Charlie Lindgren for over his stint as starter earlier this month. Even though his technique wasn’t perfect, Price battled and found a way to make some gigantically important saves to keep his team in the game when the Wings has the lead. A few of those saves were even of the highlight reel variety. The goal barrage from a balanced attack and three goals allowed prevent Price from accessing the stars, but his contributions were quietly important nonetheless.
Stats: 28 saves on 31 shots, .903 save %, 3.00GAA, 60:00 T.O.I.