Following a strong showing on Saturday, the Habs looked to make it two straight wins as they hosted San Jose on Sunday night. However, they got off to a slow start which proved to be the difference as they lost 3-1.
Claude Julien opted to not make any changes to his winning lineup from Saturday which meant that Carey Price was between the pipes once again. Perhaps he should have made some changes as the home side came out flat.
The Canadiens were on their heels early and often. Jordie Benn made a nice sprawling play to break up an early two-on-one but it wasn’t much longer before the Sharks got on the board. Barely a minute later, Jeff Petry had a soft pass attempt picked off by Justin Braun. He skated into Montreal’s end and slapped one past Price that needed to be stopped. This marked the second straight game where a bad play by Petry directly resulted in a goal.
Things didn’t get much better after that. Montreal had one notable chance as Max Domi was stopped by Martin Jones’ glove on a two-on-one and that stood as their only opportunity for the majority of the period.
The Habs got into some penalty trouble near the midway mark of the frame. Mike Reilly was called for cross-checking while a minute later, Michael Chaput was sent off for a high stick. San Jose has a lot of firepower on their power play and it went to work. Joe Pavelski found a wide-open Brent Burns in the slot and he fired one past Price to double their lead. On the back half of the advantage, San Jose rang one off the post but didn’t have any real chances after that.
With just over five minutes left in the period, Montreal got their first man advantage of the game as San Jose was called for too many men. Shea Weber’s shoot-first mentality was in full force as he broke two Sharks sticks on the first half of the power play but that’s as close as Montreal got to scoring.
Although they didn’t score with the advantage, it at least seemed to wake the Canadiens up as they were a lot better in the final few minutes of the period. With just over two minutes left, Paul Byron knocked down a Weber wrister and looked to have a yawning cage but Jones got his pad out and got just enough of it to keep it out while the rebound was sent through the crease but no one was around to tap it in. That’s as close as Montreal got to scoring in the period as they headed to the room down two. Shots on goal were 11-8 for San Jose.
The home side got off to a much-improved start for the middle stanza. Roughly two minutes in, Domi found himself on another two-on-one, this time with Andrew Shaw. He once again opted to shoot (the right call both times) but Jones was up to the task.
Things quieted down for a few minutes after that but Price found himself busy again before too long. Some of it was his own doing as he tried to draw a penalty after minor contact with Lukas Radil that resulted in him making an awkward stop. A minute later, Marcus Sorenson was sent in all alone on a breakaway but Price made the save. Two minutes after that, the Sharks came in on a three-on-one but Melker Karlsson missed the net to keep it a two-goal game.
After Petry caused a San Jose goal in the first, he wound up making up for it. A little past the 12-minute mark, he took a shot that hit Jones in the mask and the rebound went to Jonathan Drouin near the point. He sent it back towards the net and the puck found its way back to Petry who was hanging around the crease. He had a wide open net and made no mistake to get the Habs on the board.
Montreal had a good chance to equal the score with six minutes to go. A pass attempt from Pavelski was blocked sending the Canadiens in three on one. However, Erik Karlsson hustled back and the Habs couldn’t even muster up a shot attempt.
That miss came back to bite them as not too long after that, San Jose restored their two-goal advantage. Burns had the puck in the corner and found Pavelski streaking to the net and he snapped one past Price.
The Habs found themselves in penalty trouble towards the end of the period. Shea Weber was called for interference and late in that kill, Petry picked up a delay of game call as a clearing attempt from his own end sailed out of play. However, Montreal managed to kill it off (aside from the remaining 36 seconds that carried over) although Evander Kane was left all alone in front of Price with 20 seconds to go, forcing the Montreal netminder to make one of his better stops of the night. The buzzer sounded with the two-goal margin intact with San Jose outshooting the Canadiens 11-10 in the frame.
The Habs successfully killed off the rest of the Petry minor and picked up the pressure on the Sharks who were admittedly playing a little tentative. They didn’t really get a good scoring chance until the seven-minute mark when Jesperi Kotkaniemi fed Paul Byron who sped in on a partial breakaway but couldn’t slip it past Jones.
The next shift, Montreal’s fourth line got into some trouble. A point shot from Burns hurt Kenny Agostino which took him out of the play. With a mini power play, Burns again teed it up but Price made the glove stop. Off the faceoff, Mike Reilly skated it out of the zone and wound up going end-to-end and got a weak shot off.
With five minutes left, the Habs got another strong opportunity as Weber had the puck in the slot but he fired it wide. It looked as if they’d get a chance to get back into it with a late power play but they struggled to establish a presence in the offensive zone and pulling Price with two minutes left didn’t help much either.
Jones wound up being peppered in the final frame and as a result, he wound up making 39 saves for the win while Price kicked aside 26 in the losing effort. The power play was a factor in this one with San Jose going 1/4 while Montreal went 0/2.
HW Habs 3 Stars
1st Star: Andrew Shaw – Most of Montreal’s more skilled players had quiet nights but Shaw stood out as one of the few positives. He was around the net all night, played his usual physical game, and was a factor at the faceoff dot.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 2 shots, 4 hits, 2 giveaways, 8/12 faceoffs, 17:36 TOI
2nd Star: Jonathan Drouin – Max Domi was the more noticeable of the two in terms of chances but it was Drouin that did well to set them up. He also picked up the primary assist on the lone goal and had a couple of decent chances of his own.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 2 shots, 1 hit, 1 giveaway, 1 takeaway, 18:05 TOI
3rd Star: Jeff Petry – As the one player who scored, there’s a case to put him higher but his giveaway and bad penalty knock him down a bit. Aside from those two mistakes, he didn’t have a bad game and picked up his play in the third period in particular. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his readjusting to his lesser role with Shea Weber now back.
Stats: 1 goal, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 5 shots, 1 hit, 1 takeaway, 2 blocks, 19:37 TOI
Honourable Mention: Mike Reilly – He wasn’t particularly strong early on but he also got better as the game went on and was particularly noticeable in the third period. With Noah Juulsen inching closer to a return and Victor Mete’s stint in the AHL not expected to be particularly long, he has a limited window to work his way back up the depth chart. This was a decent start.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 5 shots (game-high 9 attempts), 1 hit, 15:42 TOI