The Habs went into Vancouver on Saturday hoping to end their Western road trip on a winning note. It took another third period comeback but they were able to do so as they picked up a 3-2 victory.
Claude Julien opted to not make any changes to the lineup that pulled off the comeback in Calgary which meant that defencemen Karl Alzner and Mike Reilly were the healthy scratches while Carey Price got the start in goal.
Montreal got an early power play and they managed to successfully kill it off without any significant chances against them. (Yes, it’s come to this…) Shortly after, Elias Pettersson feathered a precise cross-ice pass to Michael Del Zotto to spring him but he ultimately fired his shot wide.
Just before the nine-minute mark, the fourth line had one the Canadiens best chances of the period as Charles Hudon and Nicolas Deslauriers went in two-on-one. Hudon sent the pass across to Deslauriers who got a decent shot off but Jacob Markstrom made the stop.
Phillip Danault took a hooking call just after that, giving Vancouver their first power play of the night. Like Montreal’s opening man advantage, nothing much came of it. Max Domi was called for high sticking just after that one expired but again, the Canucks couldn’t generate much as the Habs’ penalty kill was quite effective.
Just as Domi was stepping out of the box, Jeff Petry kicked a pass out of midair right to him, springing him on a breakaway but Markstrom was up to the task. Less than a minute later, Jordie Benn got caught flat-footed at the offensive blueline, sending Tyler Motte in all alone but Price made the stop and the teams headed to their dressing rooms still tied after 20 minutes. Shots on goal were 10-9 for the home side.
The second period got off to a relatively quiet start. Tim Schaller kept the puck on a two-on-one and Price made the stop. One minute later, Montreal’s top line had the puck in Vancouver’s end and got a little too fancy which resulted in a possible scoring chance being thwarted without a shot.
A few minutes after that, the Canadiens opened up the scoring. Petry had another strong pass (not as fancy as the kick) that spanned nearly 80 feet to an open Tomas Tatar. He walked in on the breakaway and beat Markstrom to give Montreal the lead.
With just under four minutes left, a bad giveaway from Erik Gudbranson gave Andrew Shaw a chance in close but he couldn’t stuff it past Markstrom. Off the ensuing faceoff, Vancouver broke out with Del Zotto gaining the zone. He dropped it back and headed for the net as the puck swung to Tyler Motte. His shot was deflected by Antoine Roussel right to Del Zotto who had a wide open net and he made no mistake to tie the game.
Jake Virtanen was called for holding the stick with just over two minutes remaining in the period. Montreal won the faceoff and that’s about the only good thing that came of their power play. As a result, the 1-1 score held up to the buzzer with the shots being even at nine apiece.
Xavier Ouellet was called for hooking early in the third but it was Montreal that got the best opportunity on it as Artturi Lehkonen had a breakaway but was turned aside by Markstrom. The Canucks got another opportunity with the man advantage three minutes later as Lehkonen was called for interference on a play that happens plenty of times in a game but is rarely called (but yes, by definition, was a penalty). Pettersson was perched in his usual spot at the right faceoff dot and a one-timer attempt was stopped by Price. The puck remained in play and Vancouver worked it back to Pettersson for a second crack at it and this time he made no mistake, blasting one past Price.
Shortly after that, Price made a huge stop on Markus Granlund in front and it proved to be even bigger moments later. The Habs came back the other way and got the puck deep. Max Domi got the puck in the corner and sent a pass in front towards Shaw. The puck redirected off his skate and got past Markstrom to tie it up.
It was looking like the game was heading towards overtime before Del Zotto took an interference penalty for a late hit on Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The strangest thing happened on Montreal’s power play – they scored on it. Although they lost the draw, they retrieved the puck in the corner and fed it back to Jonathan Drouin at the point. His shot made it through a strong screen and through Markstrom to give the Habs the late lead. Although Vancouver came close to scoring late (including ringing one off the post), Montreal was able to hold on for their second comeback win of the road trip.
Price had another solid outing, turning aside 36 shots in the victory while Markstrom stopped 28. Both teams scored with the man advantage with the Habs going 1/3 and the Canucks 1/4.
HW Habs 3 Stars
1st Star: Carey Price – It’s way too early to say he’s back to his old self for good but Price looked a lot better than he did just a week ago. He was calm under pressure, didn’t get caught overcommitting, and made several key stops to keep it close. That’s two straight strong outings for him.
Stats: 36 saves on 38 shots, 2.00 GAA, .947 SV%
2nd Star: Tomas Tatar – He was a little quieter in the third period but through 40 minutes, he was Montreal’s most noticeable player by a considerable margin. He made a nice move to score and had some other good shots on goal.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 4 shots, 16:22 TOI
3rd Star: Jeff Petry – There are some games where the extra ice time really gets to him and others where he stands out in a positive way. This was one of the latter. On top of his two big passes, he was physical, jumped in the rush several times, and basically just had a solid all-around game.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 4 shots (7 attempts), 5 hits, 3 giveaways, 27:49 TOI
Honourable Mention: Jonathan Drouin – To be honest, I didn’t think he played all that well, especially compared to his linemates. He did get the game-winner though and that has to count for something.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +1 rating, 1 shot, 16:26 TOI