The Habs played a rare weekday afternoon game on Monday in Detroit with it being Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the Canadiens it was an early start as they slept walked their way to a 1-0 defeat.
While head coach Michel Therrien is often hesitant to change his lineup after a victory, he made one change for this one. Jacob de la Rose made his season debut on the left wing alongside Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn while Michael McCarron was a healthy scratch after playing just 7:18 on Saturday against the Rangers.
[Update: McCarron was sent to St. John’s after the game.]
Montreal typically doesn’t play a lot of afternoon games in the season and it showed early on as they were listless and unable to even complete simple passes. The second pairing had a bad turnover that led to an Andreas Athanasiou breakaway which Carey Price made a nice save on. That was pretty much the only prime scoring chance either side had in the period, one that saw the two teams combined for all of 11 shots (Detroit with six, Montreal five). Each team also had a power play and while the Wings were able to muster up a bit of zone time with theirs, neither side was able to score.
Both teams came out a bit better for the second period although given how the first went, that doesn’t say a whole lot. Former Hab Thomas Vanek was noticeable early on with a couple of chances although he wasn’t able to convert…at least for the time being. Nathan Beaulieu was dropped to the third pairing after the Athanasiou chance in the first and he responded well with a stronger second stanza and had a couple of chances on his own but couldn’t beat Jared Coreau.
The Red Wings were able to draw first blood late in the period though as a Danny DeKeyser point shot that looked to be going wide of the net deflected off of Vanek past Price to give Detroit the lead heading into the second intermission. Shots on goal weren’t much higher in the period with each team picking up just seven.
The third period saw more of the same from Montreal. While they had a few shifts where they controlled the play, they were few and far between and they were never really in it despite being down just one. There was no scoring in the final frame as the Red Wings took it 1-0.
Price made 19 saves in a losing effort while Coreau picked up the shutout while turning aside all 18 Montreal shots. The Wings were 0/4 with the man advantage while the Habs weren’t able to capitalize on their lone chance.
HW 3 Stars of the Afternoon
1st Star: Carey Price – He wasn’t tested a whole lot but he did enough to keep Montreal in it. The one goal he allowed wasn’t his fault either. His positioning still looks a bit shaky but this was a decent first step in the right direction towards righting the ship for him.
Stats: 19 saves on 20 shots, 1.02 GAA, .950 SV%
2nd Star: Alexei Emelin – In a game where no Montreal skater really stood out in a positive way, Emelin had a decent game on the back end. He was more aggressive with the puck on his stick (he even had a nice dangle towards the goal in the first) and that stood out considering very few players were able to generate much.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 2 shots, 1 hit, 1 block, 23:47 TOI
3rd Star: Alex Galchenyuk – It’s clear he’s still not up to full game shape but that’s to be expected. He had a few strong shifts and was strong on the puck. He also was Montreal’s best player at the faceoff dot which isn’t something that gets said very often.
Stats: 0 points, 2 PIMS, even rating, 3 shots, 1 takeaway, 1 block, 8/11 faceoffs, 18:59 TOI
Honourable Mention: Artturi Lehkonen – He didn’t play a whole lot (a bit surprising considering he has been one of their better scorers lately) but he wasn’t entirely invisible when he was on the ice. Normally that isn’t worth much but for this game, that’s enough to stand out in a positive way.
Stats: 0 points, 1 shot, 3 hits, 12:52 TOI
Stat of the Game: Montreal’s shot output of 18 was their second lowest of the season (they had 17 in a victory over Philadelphia in November). On the flip side, their 20 shots allowed was their fourth fewest on the year.