Just 24 hours after a disappointing loss against the Jets, the Habs were back in action as they took on the Red Wings in Detroit. It was the same old story for the Habs, as once again they found themselves on the wrong side of a one-goal game, falling 4-3.
There were a few changes made to the lineup from Monday night. Lukas Vejdemo and Brett Kulak dressed and replaced Jordan Weal and Cale Fleury respectively while Charlie Lindgren got his second start of the season.
Detroit slightly outplayed the Habs for most of the first period but neither team could really gain any traction in the first half of the opening frame. Just over eight minutes into the game, Dale Weise was called for interference. The Montreal penalty kill was quite effective in their first opportunity and kept Detroit in check.
The Red Wings continued to have a slight edge in the play and got another powerplay opportunity when Nick Cousins got a little overzealous on the forecheck and crosschecked Mike Green into the boards. However, it was the Habs bringing the offence. Artturi Lehkonen intercepted a Filip Hronek pass at the point and had a clear-cut breakaway from his own blueline. He brought the puck to the backhand to spread Jonathan Bernier out, then slid the puck between his legs for the opening goal.
Just after that penalty expired, Ilya Kovalchuk was tripped by Madison Bowey, sending the Habs to their first power play. The best Montreal chance came courtesy of the captain. Kovalchuk sent a pass over for a one-timer, but it was too hot to handle, and Shea Weber couldn’t place it exactly where he wanted to.
With just twenty seconds left in the period, the Habs took their third penalty of the opening frame. Tomas Tatar was behind the defence and looking to drive the net on a breakaway. He was hooked on the play but it wasn’t called. On his way to the bench, Tatar must’ve said something that the official didn’t like and he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The penalty-filled affair continued early in the second when Adam Erne was called for roughing on Petry. Patrik Nemeth was called for interference afterwards, and the Habs had a 5-on-3. Montreal doubled their lead on the two-man advantage when Domi put it towards the net and Nick Suzuki backhanded it in passed an outstretched Bernier.
Shea Weber had an excellent chance later on when Phillip Danault dove for the puck and tipped it to him for a breakaway. Weber brought it in on the right side but was stopped by Bernier.
Later on in the period, another strange penalty was called against the Habs and Nick Cousins was sent off for a faceoff violation. The Canadiens killed the two minutes but a tired group was stuck on the ice, and as it expired there was a scramble in front. Lindgren made the first two saves, but Frans Nielsen fluttered a third shot over him to cut the lead in half.
Late in the period, Tatar and Lehkonen managed to get in on a 2-on-0. Tatar set up Lehkonen for what looked like an open net, but Madison Bowey dove back and just got a piece of the pass. At some point in the period, Kovalchuk was placed onto a line with Domi and Suzuki. The exciting combination came close to the 3-1 goal a few times before the end of the period but couldn’t finish their chances.
The Habs didn’t have the start to the third period that they hoped for. Under a minute in a defensive breakdown led to Robby Fabbri having an open shot in the slot, and he fired it past Lindgren to tie the game up.
Shortly after the goal, Justin Abdelkader was called for interference on Lindgren. Montreal couldn’t gain the zone for most of the power play, but they did have a couple of unsuccessful chances near the end. Not long after the penalty expired, the Canadiens managed to get their lead back. Victor Mete accepted a nice pass from Kovalchuk and was looking to centre it. His pass hit the skate of Hronek and slid in for Mete’s fourth of the year.
With under nine minutes to go, a series of nice passes from Detroit sent Nielsen in alone. He deked to the backhand and slid the puck under Lindgren to tie it up once again. Then with less than four minutes to go in the game after some extended pressure Filip Zadina scored for Detroit to give them their first lead.
The Habs tried a late push and pulled Lindgren for the extra attacker but once again it was not enough and Montreal lost their seventh in a row.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Ilya Kovalchuk
After the Canadiens signed him, many people suspected (and rightfully so) that Kovalchuk would be rusty after not playing in an NHL game since November. He has looked anything but rusty in his first two games with the Habs. He created in the offensive zone and collected another two points in this one.
Stats: 2A, -1, 1 SOG, 2 hits, 21:22 TOI
Second Star – Artturi Lehkonen
Not many players have been able to step up with all the injuries. However, Lehkonen has been able to elevate his game lately. He has continued to play a strong and responsible 200-foot game. But he has also elevated his game offensively and has been collecting points in recent games.
Stats: 1G, 0 +/-, 1 SOG, 2 hits, 19:27 TOI
Third Star – Victor Mete
Mete obviously wasn’t 100% when he first came back from his ankle injury but he has steadily improved lately. He was much quicker in this one and is starting to look comfortable joining the rush again. After his goal, another strong drive to the net just about resulted in another shortly after.
Stats: 1G, 0 +/-, 4 SOG, 2 hits, 13:10 TOI
Honourable Mention – Nick Suzuki
Suzuki collected another goal and an assist in the game. He was good for most of the game, but the fact that he is still a rookie showed on the missed assignment on the 3-2 Detroit goal.
Stats: 1G, 1A. -1, 2 SOG, 1 hit 18:00 TOI