The Habs went into Boston looking to get back in the win column following a loss to Buffalo on Thursday. They did just that, holding the Bruins at bay as they earned a 3-0 victory.
Montreal made a trio of changes to the lineup from their loss on Thursday. Karl Alzner subbed in for the injured Noah Juulsen and played his off-side alongside Mike Reilly while Charles Hudon replaced Andrew Shaw who was a healthy scratch. Meanwhile, Carey Price was back between the pipes while Boston countered with Tuukka Rask.
Price was tested early on as the Bruins carried the play in the opening minutes but held the fort. The Habs got a power play shortly after and while they didn’t score, they took the momentum away from the home side which was critical.
Just before the midway mark of the period, Brendan Gallagher won a puck battle along the boards and made a nice move to get open at the far end of the faceoff dot. As he often does, he just threw the puck on the net and it somehow eluded Rask to open the scoring.
A couple of shifts later, after breaking his stick on a shot attempt for the second time in the period, Artturi Lehkonen went to the bench for a replacement. As he got it, Montreal took possession and he was sprung on a breakaway. Zdeno Chara hooked him but play continued on the delayed penalty. Lehkonen threw it out front where Jonathan Drouin got a piece but couldn’t get a shot off. It bounced to Max Domi who whiffed on the first attempt but his second attempt was good enough to beat Rask to double the lead.
Montreal continued to push for several shifts but couldn’t get a third goal. Matthew Peca took a tripping penalty with just under five minutes left. Boston has one of the top power plays in the league but the Canadiens did well to hold them at bay although David Krejci fanned on a two-on-one with that man advantage. The Habs were able to hold on for the rest of the period to take the two-goal lead to the dressing room while holding a 9-7 edge in shots.
The Habs started the second relatively strong as the Gallagher line had a chance in the early going. A few minutes later, Mike Reilly had a strong chance as he worked a give-and-go but Rask made the stop.
Boston looked to cut their deficit in half as Ryan Donato wristed one by Price short side that he really should have stopped. However, the Canadiens successfully challenged for offside to keep the home side off the scoresheet.
That seemed to deflate both teams as the second half of the frame had what felt like 100 whistles which killed any flow the game had. While it doesn’t make for good watching, something tells me Claude Julien and his coaching staff wasn’t too upset about this.
The period ended with a close chance, however. The Habs turned it over in the dying seconds, sending Boston in with a three-on-one. Donato tripped over the blueline which sent the puck to Joakim Nordstrom who fired a strong shot that Price gloved just as the buzzer went. Shots on goal in the second were 12-10 for the Bruins.
The final frame lacked the stoppages of the second but the lack of energy was evident for both sides for most of the period. A few minutes in, Ryan Donato (who had himself quite a game) had Price looking the other way and tried to stuff one home from behind the net but Xavier Ouellet was there to block that attempt.
A few minutes later, Joel Armia put Boston on the power play with a tripping call but that advantage was short-lived as Rask tripped Paul Byron shortly thereafter. Soon after those penalties expired, Jonathan Drouin and Brad Marchand were called for offsetting minors.
That took it to the midway point and while Montreal wasn’t doing anything offensively, neither was Boston. With 7:30 left, Nicolas Deslauriers was called for hooking, sending Boston back to the power play. Ouellet got away with a high stick on Donato during their advantage and that was basically the highlight of the man advantage as the Bruins’ top scoring threats were particularly quiet.
With three minutes to go, Boston pulled Rask and got a few shots on Price who was up to the task. With roughly 30 seconds to go, Jordie Benn banked one off the sideboards in a clearing attempt. He wound up doing so at the perfect angle to collect an empty-netter for his first of the season to seal the victory for Montreal.
Price stopped all 33 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season while Rask turned aside 20 of 22. Neither team was able to score on the power play as each side went 0/3.
HW Habs 3 Stars
1st Star: Carey Price – He didn’t have to make a bunch of game-saving, highlight reel stops but there were enough key saves along the way to earn him the top spot here. He passed Patrick Roy for sole possession of second on the all-time Canadiens win list and now has his sights set on Jacques Plante.
Stats: 33 saves on 33 shots, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%
2nd Star: Brendan Gallagher – He was Montreal’s biggest sparkplug on a night that didn’t feature a whole lot of energy outside the first period. His goal was a typical hustle play while he was mixing it up in front of the net.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 1 rating, 3 shots, 2 hits, 16:36 TOI
3rd Star: Jeff Petry – With Juulsen out, Petry was asked to take on an even bigger workload as his playing time was his highest since February. He responded quite well and although he didn’t hit the scoresheet, he was a factor in the offensive end as well.
Stats: 0 points, +1 rating, 1 shot, 2 hits, 26:08 TOI
Honourable Mention: Max Domi – It wasn’t his best game compared to some recent performances but he still got the job done. His speed created one of Montreal’s better chances early on while his hustle got them the crucial second goal.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 1 shot, 3 hits, 3 giveaways, 2 takeaways, 5/16 faceoffs, 19:09 TOI