The Habs went into Winnipeg on Tuesday night looking to start their Western road trip on a winning note. They got a rare four-goal comeback but the penalty kill let them down as they fell 8-4.
Martin St. Louis made a pair of changes for this contest. Samuel Montembeault got the nod in net after Andrew Hammond picked up the victory in Ottawa on Saturday while Joel Armia made his return to the lineup in place of Michael Pezzetta on the fourth line. All of the other lines and pairings from Saturday remained intact.
Over the first few minutes, there wasn’t much going on. There was a four-minute stretch without a whistle where each team had one shot and it looked like it’d be a low-event period. That didn’t last for long.
Seconds after that stretch ended, Winnipeg controlled the draw and worked the puck over to Kyle Connor near the point. He went cross-ice for Nate Schmidt who sent the puck towards the net. Evgeny Svechnikov was there for the redirect to open up the scoring.
They doubled their lead on the next shift. 36 seconds after Svechnikov’s goal, Schmidt let a weak snapper off from the point that went straight through Montembeault’s pads and in on one of those ‘had to stop’ goals.
Then it was the referees’ turn to get involved. Mathieu Perreault drew an interference call on Dylan DeMelo to give the Habs a power play. That lasted 33 seconds until Josh Anderson was called for a trip on Nathan Beaulieu. A minute later, Brendan Dillon tripped up Nick Suzuki, making it a four-on-three for the Canadiens but they got nothing going.
As DeMelo’s penalty ended, Mike Hoffman made a crucial error, sending the puck cross-ice in the offensive zone right to DeMelo. He compounded that by not hustling back defensively. The end result was a two-on-one with DeMelo setting up Adam Lowry who deked out Montembeault and deposited it in the net for a three-goal lead.
The penalty fest continued as Brett Kulak was called for holding Pierre-Luc Dubois, giving the Jets a four-on-three. They didn’t score on it but got set up and eventually, Dubois fed Mark Scheifele with a perfectly-placed pass in the slot and Scheifele one-timed it home to make it 4-0; the period still hadn’t reached the midway mark yet.
Montreal then found their skating legs. Anderson got the road side on the board two minutes after Scheifele’s goal when he skated in on the rush on the right side, got to the bottom of the faceoff dot, and somehow fooled Connor Hellebuyck with a well-placed shot. Two minutes after that, Chris Wideman made a nice play to break up a dangerous-looking two-on-one from Winnipeg.
That proved to be crucial as not long after that, Josh Morrissey went off for a hook on Cole Caufield, sending Montreal back to the power play. The second unit started it and Artturi Lehkonen had a perfectly-placed cross-ice pass for Brendan Gallagher that he just missed on the redirect. The first unit came out for a faceoff which was quickly won back to Caufield. His quick shot was stopped but the rebound bounced out to Anderson who had a yawning cage to shoot at and made no mistake to make it 4-2.
Not even a minute and a half later, Neal Pionk turned it over in the neutral zone with Jake Evans collecting the puck. He fed Lehkonen who went in on a breakaway and went five-hole on Hellebuyck to make it 4-3.
Montreal then got another chance on the power play when Beaulieu went off for roughing on Kulak. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, Anderson just missed the net on the rush and then once again took a penalty to negate the advantage, this time with a hook on DeMelo. The very eventful period came to an end with seven goals, seven penalties, and 20 shots with the Habs holding a 14-6 edge. Winnipeg was outshot 10-0 after Scheifele’s goal.
Winnipeg had some carryover power play time to start the second but Montembeault was sharp. That proved to be critical as four minutes into the period, Ryan Poehling made a nice play to send a cross-ice feed to Anderson who fired one high-glove on Hellebuyck to tie the game.
The Jets came close to getting the lead back just over a minute later when Dubois beat Montembeault from a similar spot as Anderson’s first goal. However, while it got past the goalie, it went wide.
The Canadiens got another chance with the man advantage at the seven-minute mark when Dominic Toninato was called for slashing Perreault on a play that could have created a scoring chance. Unfortunately for the Habs, they couldn’t generate any chances on the power play.
With seven minutes left, Lehkonen was sent in with a good look on a backhand play off a won board battle by Rem Pitlick but Hellebuyck made the stop. A minute later, Hoffman was shaken up after blocking a hard shot from DeMelo but he’d remain in the game. On the next shift, Blake Wheeler was shaken up in a collision with Anderson but he, too, stayed in the game.
After some nice stickhandling behind the net in the offensive zone, Jeff Petry eventually got his stick up on Dubois, sending Winnipeg back to the power play. Scheifele couldn’t get a shot off on a cross-crease feed and moments later, Pitlick was sprung on a breakaway. Dubois got the slash in to stop the chance but Pitlick was awarded a penalty shot. He didn’t get a great move on Hellebuyck though and it wound up being a fairly easy stop.
Off the ensuing draw, Winnipeg came back down into Montreal’s zone and Andrew Copp wristed one past Montembeault from the left faceoff dot. Montembeault wasn’t exactly well-positioned on the play, giving Copp way too much of an open net to shoot at. Copp nearly had another chance on the next shift on a two-on-one but couldn’t move the puck in time. That was it for the second with the shots on goal being 11-10 for the Jets.
Montembeault’s positional struggles continued on the first shift of the third when Lowry got him out of sorts but caught the post with his shot.
Gallagher was then called for slash on Wheeler, giving the Jets another power play. Montembeault made two good stops but then got himself into trouble again, overcommitting to try to poke the puck past Wheeler. Instead, Wheeler got control, sent it behind the net to Scheifele, and he banked it off Ben Chiarot’s skate into the vacated cage as Montembeault was too far out of position to get back.
Kristian Vesalainen got in on a partial break seconds later but Montembeault made the stop.
Gallagher then took another penalty, this time for high-sticking Connor. Scheifele got the puck, fed a cross-ice pass to Dubois, and the centre one-timed it home to make it 7-4 and mercifully ending Montembeault’s night in the process.
On the next shift, Anderson drew a tripping call on Pionk, giving the Habs another man advantage. The second unit had a couple of good looks but that’s as close as they came.
For a brief moment, it looked like Montreal scored just past the midway mark but after a surprisingly lengthy review, it was correctly revealed that Gallagher kicked it in.
Pionk earned himself another trip to the penalty box when he tripped Caufield with nine minutes left. However, it was Winnipeg that had the best chance as Lowry and Copp came in on a two-on-one but the shot went wide.
Going back to the playoffs, everyone remembers the hit from Scheifele on Evans. In the end, it was Wideman – who wasn’t even on the team at the time – that tried to get retribution. The Habs wound up with the extra two minutes on the play as they were about to be called for too many men when the fight broke out.
Once again, Winnipeg’s power play was sharp. They got a two-man break with Paul Stastny feeding Copp but Andrew Hammond got across for the stop. However, seconds later, Lowry got the puck behind the net and fed Stastny in the slot with the veteran one-timing it home to end the scoring.
In the end, Winnipeg became the first team in NHL history to win by four goals after blowing a four-goal lead earlier in the game.
Montembeault stopped just 16 of 23 Winnipeg shots while Hammond kicked aside six of seven in his roughly ten minutes of action. At the other end, Hellebuyck was a bit shaky early but still made 31 stops. The power play was a big difference-maker in this one; while the Habs were 1/6, the Jets scored on four of their seven opportunities.
HW Habs 3 Stars
1st Star: Josh Anderson – With his first career hat trick, it’s kind of hard to not give it to him. He was fairly quiet in the second half of the game but he was certainly assertive in the first half. Anderson has been a nice complementary fit on the new top line with Suzuki and Caufield and this performance was a continuation of that.
Stats: 3 goals, even rating, 4 PIMS, 4 shots, 17:39 TOI
2nd Star: Artturi Lehkonen – This was a performance that should only help his trade value if Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton opt to go that route. His offensive game is consistently inconsistent but he scored Montreal’s other goal and had a couple of other chances.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 3 shots, 3 hits, 13:16 TOI
3rd Star: Ryan Poehling – It wasn’t a flashy game for Poehling but it was an effective one. He made the one good play to set up Anderson’s third goal but there was some jam to his game in terms of board battles and driving the net. That’s what’s going to earn him more ice time compared to what he had played the last few games and St. Louis gave it to him.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 1 shot, 6/11 faceoffs, 12:05 TOI
Honourable Mention: Jeff Petry – The penalty that led to the eventual winner from Copp wasn’t great but this was another step in the right direction for the veteran. Petry was much more involved offensively than he was earlier in the year and that’s a big part of his game. He didn’t score but his offensive zone play seemed to give him a lift as he was Montreal’s best defender in this one.
Stats: 1 assist, even rating, 2 PIMS, 2 shots, 3 hits, 22:21 TOI