The Habs were closing out a three-game homestand as they took on the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The Habs had a 3-0 lead in the second period, but once again they couldn’t hold onto it. Luckily, a Jeff Petry breakaway goal in overtime gave the Habs a win, despite another blown lead.
With the unfortunate reality of a lost season set for the Habs, Carey Price was given a much needed night off. This meant that Charlie Lindgren got the start in goal. Xavier Ouellet drew back into the lineup for the Habs, but Jonathan Drouin was still unavailable.
The Habs started the game with a flurry of chances, led by a great early shift from Nick Suzuki. The Canadiens have had no trouble scoring the first goal lately, and they did exactly that again in this one. A great tic-tac-toe play was started by Brendan Gallagher, who went across the ice to Tomas Tatar. Tatar then sent it out front to Phillip Danault who tipped it in. With the assist, Tatar set a new career high in points.
The Canadiens’ momentum was halted six minutes in when Brett Kulak got nailed for high-sticking. Montreal stayed fairly structured on the penalty kill and effectively killed it off. However, it did appear to flip the momentum and Carolina started to carry the play.
There was another momentum swing with just under nine minutes left in the opening frame when Carolina took a too many men penalty. The Habs had a few decent chances while a man up. The best chance came off the stick of Tatar, who was wide open in the slot, but goaltender Anton Forsberg got a piece of it.
The penalty did appear to take momentum away from Carolina. The Habs had a solid final few minutes in the first period; they kept the Hurricanes out of their own zone and were able to generate a few chances of their own zone. Montreal finished up the first twenty still up 1-0.
The Canadiens got off to a roaring start in the second period. Four minutes in the puck was thrown on net, Paul Byron made a strong play on the rebound, and dropped it for Max Domi who fired it into the net for his 17th of the year, and a 2-0 lead.
Before the goal could even be announced in the building, the Habs lit the lamp again. Tatar’s long shot was kicked out, and the rebound slid into the high slot. Gallagher came in and stepped into a slapper that didn’t stop until it hit the back of the net. The goal chased Forsberg from the game and he was replaced by Alex Nedeljkovic.
Eight minutes into the period, a harmless point shot from Haydn Fleury found its way through traffic to put Carolina on the board. The Habs have blown on numerous occasions lately so they found themselves at a crossroads after the goal.
The Habs did a good job of keeping the game in control and not letting it slip away from them. They continued to put pressure on Carolina and forced them to take a penalty with two minutes left. The Habs flirted with disaster on the power play when Vincent Trocheck got a clean breakaway chance and Lindgren came up with a big pad save. Montreal didn’t score on the power play, but they did keep their two-goal advantage.
Just over one minute into the third period, the seed of doubt was planted into the mind of the Habs. After some pressure from Carolina, another harmless looking shot from the point (this time from Joel Edmundson) found its way into the back of the net.
Just before the midway mark, Andrei Svechnikov had a partial breakaway but he skated right through Lindgren and took a goaltender interference penalty. Just as the power play expired, Danault was called for tripping, and Carolina got a chance.
The Habs killed the penalty and most of the period. But with 1:17 on the clock, the Canadiens collapsed once again. Williams tipped in a point shot from Edmundson and once again a Montreal lead evaporated.
Just as time expired, Svechnikov had a golden opportunity in front but Lindgren flashed the leather just as the buzzer sounded to keep the Habs in the game and push it to overtime.
After a solid first shift in overtime, Tatar found Petry with a stretch pass. Petry went in alone and fired the shot upstairs to salvage the two points for the Canadiens.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Tomas Tatar
Tatar picked up the primary assist on three of the four goals. The first one came on a perfect cross-ice pass and the second on a nice shot. His last assist came on a perfect pass to Petry for the overtime winner. Tatar kept on adding to his career high in points and continues to lead the Habs in scoring.
Stats: 3A, +2, 5 SOG, 1 hit, 17:17 TOI
Second Star – Brendan Gallagher
Gallagher had a good night, picking up two points of his own. He made a great play to Tatar on the first goal while his goal was a rocket of a shot from the slot. He also gave his all on every shift and battled hard all night long.
Stats: 1G, 1A, +1, 4 SOG, 1 hit, 15:16 TOI
Third Star – Jeff Petry
Once again Petry came in clutch for the Montreal Canadiens in overtime. Petry is the perfect 3-on-3 defenceman and he showed it again for the Habs in overtime, scoring the winner.
Stats: 1G (GWG), +1, 1 SOG, 4 hits, 25:35 TOI
Honourable Mention- Charlie Lindgren
You can’t fault Lindgren for any of the goals against him. Two were shots that he did not see at all, and the third was tipped in the high slot. He made some huge saves to keep the Habs in it, including the big glove save just as the buzzer sounded to end regulation.
Stats: win, 3 GA, 27 saves, .900 save %