The Habs were looking to close off the week on a winning note on Saturday night. Unfortunately, a late penalty proved to be costly as the Bruins skated away with the 3-2 victory.
Montreal made two lineup changes for this one. Carey Price was back between the pipes after Antti Niemi got the start on Friday while Charles Hudon was back in for Matthew Peca. This is at least somewhat notable as it prevented the first ever head-to-head matchup of Quinnipiac alumni in the NHL (Boston’s Connor Clifton played there as well).
Things didn’t get off to a great start for the Habs. On the opening shift, Jake DeBrusk put an easy shot on net that handcuffed Price which resulted in a bad rebound in the slot to David Krejci but fortunately for the home side, he missed. A few minutes later, the Max Domi line put together good back-to-back shifts with chances on Tuukka Rask but couldn’t beat him.
Four minutes after that, Jeff Petry’s point shot beat Rask but not the post and Jonathan Drouin was unable to pot the rebound. Coming back the other way, Andrew Shaw took an elbowing penalty which sent Boston to the power play. That man advantage was short-lived as Brad Marchand was called for cross-checking on what was a bit of a reputational call. Montreal’s time with the power play was uneventful.
A little more than a minute after the Marchand penalty expired, Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a brutal giveaway to David Backes at his own blueline. That sent Backes in on a breakaway and he beat Price to pick up his first goal of the season.
Offsetting roughing minors to Drouin and Marchand barely a minute later sent it back to four-on-four action and the Habs didn’t fare well. DeBrusk beat Kulak to the slot and he took a perfect pass from Torey Krug to make it 2-0.
In the last minute of the period, the Habs came close to getting on the board. Kulak was unable to corral a good feed from Shaw. Noah Acciari was called for high sticking shortly after that and the abbreviated power play actually looked dangerous. They weren’t able to get one past Rask before the buzzer although David Schlemko beat Rask with a point shot just after the period ended. Shots on goal in the period were 14-12 for Boston.
The Habs remained on the man advantage to start the second as Brendan Gallagher and Kevan Miller received offsetting minors at the end of the first. They didn’t score with the power play but they came close. Kotkaniemi had a good chance in the slot while Hudon rang one off the post just as it expired. All in all, Montreal had five shots in the first 2:20 of the frame.
Two minutes later, Domi took an unnecessary interference penalty on David Pastrnak but the Habs were able to kill the penalty in part due to some good work from Michael Chaput and Nicolas Deslauriers.
A few minutes after that, Krejci snuck behind the defence and received a pass which gave him a clear lane towards Price. Fortunately for Montreal, Kulak was able to track him down and he ultimately was able to tie him up before the Czech centre could get a shot off.
Play was fairly quiet after that until the parade to the penalty box began. Jeff Petry was called for tripping on a play that should have gone against Kenny Agostino but a Torey Krug high-sticking penalty ended that. While the Habs were on the power play, Petry again went to the box for hooking shortly after a Kotkaniemi tip from the slot bounced off Kevan Miller. However, shortly into Boston’s power play, Chaput beat Krejci to the puck, initiated contact, and ultimately drew a holding call which ended the period at four-on-four. Shots on goal in the middle frame were 12-9 for the Bruins.
Montreal came out flying to start the third. Artturi Lehkonen looked to have scored in the opening minute but the goal was rightfully called back as he kicked Rask’s pad which pushed the puck into the net. A few minutes later, Deslauriers executed a chip and chase, got back to the puck, and sent it cross-ice to Kenny Agostino who missed the net with his shot.
The Canadiens were eventually rewarded for their efforts. Following a solid stop from Price, the Habs headed the other way. The puck got to Jonathan Drouin who made a terrific individual effort to get around Krug and slipped it past Rask to get the home side on the board.
A minute and a half later, Pastrnak was called for slashing to send Montreal to the power play. After not doing a lot with their advantages to this point in the game, they were more successful this time around. Near the end of the penalty, Shaw sent the puck from behind the net to Tomas Tatar who roofed it to tie the game.
Tatar had another chance with just under eight minutes to go but his shot went off Rask’s mask. Shortly after that, Hudon (who was credited with a whopping 13 hits in this one thanks to the Bell Centre statisticians’ liberal definition of a hit) was left open in front of the net. The puck came to him but his shot went wide.
While Drouin was the catalyst for the comeback, he also happened to wear the goat horns in the end. He took a double minor for high sticking on Backes and while the Habs did a good job on the first half of the penalty, they couldn’t kill the second. Shaw broke his stick which gave Boston more room to work with and the puck found its way to Backes near the net. He fed a cross-ice pass to a pinching John Moore who beat Price for his first of the season.
To Montreal’s credit, they put up a pretty good fight in the remaining 2:57, generating a lot of pressure and a few good chances. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to beat Rask for a third time and their losing streak continued.
Rask made 31 stops to pick up the win while Price turned aside 32 in a losing effort. Both teams picked up a goal on the power play with Boston going 1/6 and Montreal 1/5.
HW Habs 3 Stars
1st Star: Andrew Shaw – Watching live, I thought he potted the goal that was credited to Lehkonen while he made the key pass to set up the tying marker. He also wasn’t afraid to mix it up physically but did well to avoid the post-whistle skirmishes, something he’s had trouble with in the past. He’s a nice complement to the Domi-Drouin combination and he’s being rewarded for his efforts.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 2 shots (4 attempts), 4 hits, 4/7 faceoffs, 16:29 TOI
2nd Star: Tomas Tatar – He was pretty quiet until the third period but then he started to take control of the game and became one of their biggest scoring threats. His tying goal was crucial and for a while, it looked like it’d hold enough long enough to at least earn a point.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 5 shots (9 attempts), 2 hits, 14:15 TOI
3rd Star: Victor Mete – For the first time in a long time, Mete looked assertive. He was jumping in and getting involved in the play a lot more often while he had a quick trigger when it came towards trying to shoot. That’s the type of game they need from him if he wants to stay in the lineup.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 2 shots (6 attempts), 15:59 TOI
Honourable Mention: Carey Price – He didn’t look great early on but settled down as the game progressed and did well to keep Boston at bay long enough for the Habs to get back into it. He didn’t have much of a chance on the game-winner either. After an ugly start in New Jersey, this was a step in the right direction.
Stats: 32 saves on 35 shots, 3.13 GAA, .914 SV%