After a disheartening loss in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Habs were back at it on Sunday afternoon in Anaheim. They were able to keep it tied heading into the third but ultimately fell 4-2, giving them their lowest point total through 10 games since the 1941-42 season.
Dominique Ducharme made several changes to his lineup as expected. Samuel Montembeault got the start in goal, giving Jake Allen a well-deserved rest. Mathieu Perreault will miss the next two to three weeks with an eye issue, paving the way for Adam Brooks to play his second game of the season. Sami Niku was replaced by Chris Wideman on the back end while Brendan Gallagher tried to take the warmup but couldn’t go. Rather than dress Niku and go with seven defencemen, a less than 100% Jake Evans returned. The end result was some new-look lines as follows:
Drouin – Dvorak – Anderson
Hoffman – Suzuki – Toffoli
Caufield – Brooks – Armia
Lehkonen – Paquette – Evans
Chiarot – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Kulak – Wideman
Montembeault didn’t get off to a good start as a giveaway behind the net eventually led to a holding the stick call on Brett Kulak. Ryan Getzlaf was stopped on a one-timer and seconds later, Troy Terry redirected a point shot into the back of Maxime Comtois’ head. That brought the faceoff outside the zone but it didn’t matter as with four seconds left in Anaheim’s advantage, David Savard failed to clear the puck behind the net, turning it over. That resulted in a quick feed from Sonny Milano to Adam Henrique and he tapped it home to open the scoring.
Sam Carrick was called for interference shortly after the goal, giving the Habs their first power play of the afternoon. They wasted little time capitalizing – Jonathan Drouin won the draw to Wideman and the blueliner set up Mike Hoffman for a one-timer that was blasted past John Gibson.
Just past the seven-minute mark, Trevor Zegras missed the net on a give-and-go two-on-one and it got worse for him three minutes later when Cedric Paquette hit him from behind, earning himself five and a game (and likely a phone call from George Parros) for his troubles. Zegras was visibly shaken up on the play.
Montreal had a perfect penalty kill for the first two minutes as the Ducks weren’t even able to get set up in the offensive zone. However, once they did, they scored, as Vinni Lettieri received a cross-ice feed from Henrique after a poor play from Jeff Petry. Montembeault was way too slow coming across and Lettieri was able to fire it home.
Still on that penalty kill, Artturi Lehkonen inexplicably grabbed onto Getzlaf, earning a minor for his trouble and giving Anaheim a five-on-three for 1:32. Other than a decent one-time shot from Henrique 30 seconds into that, the penalty killers did a nice job, killing the rest of it plus the end of Paquette’s major, escaping with only one goal allowed in the sequence.
With just over three minutes left in the period, it was Montreal’s turn to hit their player with a point shot as Petry’s blast caught Josh Anderson. 40 seconds later, Lehkonen was gifted a chance in close following a turnover but his backhand shot missed the net; Tyler Toffoli wasn’t able to stuff home the rebound. A minute later, Henrique rang a shot off the post. It was an eventful final few minutes but it stayed 2-1 for the home side who also had the 10-5 edge in shots.
Montreal had a great chance to tie it early in the second as Joel Armia had a two-on-one with Cole Caufield. Armia opted to keep it and drove the net but his weak wrister wasn’t high enough and Gibson made the easy stop. A minute later, Christian Dvorak was on a rush with Anderson off a strong feed from Drouin but his pass across was broken up. However, Derek Grant was called for slashing on the play, sending the Habs to the man advantage. Unfortunately, while Drouin’s pass led to the power play, he ended it as well with a hooking penalty just 25 seconds in.
Not long after play got back to five-on-five, Henrique – who had himself quite the game – rang a shot that caught the far post but managed to stay out. Barely a minute later, Kulak hooked Nicolas Deslauriers, sending the Ducks back to the man advantage although the best chance on it came from Evans who stole the puck at the Anaheim blueline and took a slapper that drew iron but not the back of the net.
Not even a minute after that penalty expired, it was the Canadiens who were sent back to the power play as Troy Terry was called for holding Kulak’s stick just seconds after Anderson was tripped up on a rush with Dvorak that didn’t draw a whistle. Armia had an opportunity in the slot 25 seconds into the advantage but his shot missed the net and the Habs didn’t do anything else over that stretch.
That seemed to set the tone for most of the second half of the period as it was marked by missed opportunities. With seven minutes left, Zegras looked to have a partial break but Montreal’s defence was able to break it up. Less than a minute later, Drouin had a good look but missed the net. A minute and a half later, Hoffman fanned on a shot in the slot and a minute and a half after that, Anderson drove the net on the rush but his backhander was stopped.
However, the Habs were eventually rewarded for their improved effort in the second half of the frame. With two minutes to go, Petry’s point shot bounced around and was spotted by Lehkonen. He tapped it over to Drouin who was able to get a good enough shot off that it hit Gibson and went into the net, tying the game. Shots on goal were seven apiece for the period.
The first few minutes of the third period were quiet for both sides. Montembeault had to make a good stop on a point shot while the other, Armia’s tunnel vision saw him drive the net again over looking for passing lanes and he was once again stopped.
Just past the 6:30 mark, there was a flurry in front of Montembeault. He was able to keep the puck in sight to keep it out. Going the other way, Gibson and his defenceman had a miscommunication that resulted in Gibson losing the puck outside of the net, allowing Armia to attempt a wraparound but Gibson got back in time.
Kevin Shattenkirk was sent off for hooking on the play, sending Montreal back to the power play. Dvorak and Toffoli were both stopped by Gibson’s pad on good looks down low on the first wave while the second got nothing going.
Less than a minute after the power play ended, Troy Terry got behind Alexander Romanov and Getzlaf chipped a pass to the winger, sending him in all alone on Montembeault. Terry got around the poke check attempt and backhanded it home to give Anaheim the lead back. On the play, Getzlaf’s point put him in sole possession of first in franchise history for points with 989.
Montreal couldn’t muster up much after that one went in as there was plenty of neutral zone play. Montembeault was pulled with 2:15 left and the Habs went to their usual man advantage strategy of waiting to set up an ill-advised point shot that had no chance of success. True to form, Petry’s blast was blocked, the zone was cleared, and the Canadiens never really got set up again. Eventually, Carrick was able to flip one into the yawning cage from centre.
Gibson made 16 saves for the win while Montembeault kicked aside 22 of 25 Anaheim shots. The Habs were 1/4 with the power play and the Ducks were 2/6.
HW Habs 3 Stars
1st Star: Jonathan Drouin – He wasn’t overly noticeable but he set up several quality scoring chances. One of the big things with Drouin is that when he’s not producing, he’s not doing much. This was a step in the right direction on that front as he still managed to make an impact in what was a quieter game for him.
Stats: 1 assist, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 1/3 faceoffs, 15:59 TOI
2nd Star: Jake Evans – For someone that wasn’t 100% healthy, Evans made a difference in this one. He was strong shorthanded and gave the Habs some life with his goal late in the second period. His overall offensive upside is still in question but at a minimum, he can be a quality complementary piece and affect games a few different ways.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 1 shot, 1/4 faceoffs, 13:57 TOI
3rd Star: Mike Hoffman – His job is to go out there and score. He did just that with a very dangerous blast on the power play. The team needs to do a better job of funnelling the puck to him to give him a few more opportunities to use that weapon.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 1 shot, 14:58 TOI
Honourable Mention: Samuel Montembeault – He wasn’t great but considering he had been off for three weeks and was playing behind a team that lacked jump for half the game, it was hard to expect a whole lot from him. He didn’t hurt his chances of getting another start with his performance in this one.
Stats: 22 saves on 25 shots, 3.09 GAA, .880 SV%