The Habs were looking to win their second straight as they paid a visit to St. Louis on Saturday afternoon. There were a couple of lineup changes to note before the game. Cale Fleury was held out of the game with an injury, so Christian Folin drew back into the lineup, paired up with Ben Chiarot. Joel Armia left the ice during warmups with a lower-body issue so Jordan Weal took his place on the line with Jonathan Drouin and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Other than that, the lineup remained the same as Thursday night with Carey Price starting in net again.
Montreal scored three goals in the first half of the second period and didn’t look back as they defeated the Blues for the second straight Saturday, this time 5-2.
The game had good flow to start as both teams were showing their speed and scoring chances were had at both ends. Just under five minutes in, Kotkaniemi was tripped while driving to the net, sending the Habs to the first power play. The Habs opened the scoring as Max Domi took a cross-ice pass and threw the puck to the front of the net. Weal was in the crease and jammed the rebound into the Blues net for an early Habs lead.
St. Louis had a quick response. A point shot bounced off the end boards and right to Jaden Schwartz. He turned around and backhanded the puck past Price to tie the game at 1-1. The goal sparked some life into the Blues’ game, and they were pressing to take the lead. However, Price stood tall with several big saves to preserve the tied score.
With seven minutes to go in the first Tatar was called for roughing, giving the Blues their first chance with the man advantage. Price looked very good on the penalty kill, making several point-blank saves. Nate Thompson also went in with a shorthanded chance but was turned aside. The penalty expired with no harm done.
St. Louis had another power play opportunity when Artturi Lehkonen was called for tripping with a little over two minutes to go but the Habs had another very strong penalty kill. The best scoring chance during the two minutes came off the stick of Nick Suzuki when he had the puck alone in front of the net and made a deke to his forehand but could not slide the puck between the post and the outstretched leg of Jake Allen.
The first period ended in a 1-1 tie. This was a very strong road period for Montreal against tough opposition. The penalty kill that has been a weakness all season looked like a strength through the first twenty minutes of play.
The Habs got off to a very quick start in the second period. Brendan Gallagher threw the puck on net just six seconds in and it tipped off Allen’s stick into the top corner to give the Habs a 2-1 lead.
The Canadiens were looking to extend their lead and had several chances in the next few minutes after the goal. One play resulted in Suzuki getting tripped, sending the Habs to their second power play. Montreal wasted no time to double their lead. On a great passing play that went all around the zone, four of the five skaters touched the puck and Drouin fired home a one-timer for his third goal of the season.
After the goals, the Canadiens continued to look very good in this game. They were generating high danger scoring chances on almost every shift. All four forward lines were having solid shifts in the offensive zone with strong forechecking. When the Blues did manage to get the puck in the Habs’ zone, Price was ready.
Shortly after a massive windmill glove save from Carey Price, Montreal came back and extended their lead. Thompson sent a perfect pass into the slot and Suzuki fired it home for his second goal in as many games.
The Blues were starting to look frustrated as David Perron tripped Nick Suzuki behind the Habs’ net no more than a minute after the goal. Early on in the power play, Domi found Jeff Petry wide open in the slot. He fired a blistering wrist shot but Allen caught it with a quick glove. For the first time in the game, St. Louis, who came in having only allowed one power play goal all season, was able to kill a Habs power play.
The Blues had a power play chance with just over two minutes left in the middle frame when Victor Mete was called for holding. Much like the first power plays, the Canadiens had another very strong kill. Price made a couple of key saves and the defence stood their ground in front. The intermission came with Montreal comfortably ahead 4-1.
Early on in the third, the Habs went to another power play with Brayden Schenn in the box for crosschecking. St. Louis was able to kill off the two minutes even though the Habs came close to scoring. However, five minutes later the Blues’ frustration boiled over when Oskar Sundqvist took an offensive zone roughing penalty, sending the Habs man advantage back to work. This time, Montreal could not get set in the offensive zone and the two minutes expired without any real chances.
With six minutes left in the game, Paul Byron stole the puck in the St. Louis zone. He sent a pass over to Drouin who had a wide-open net. Allen was able to slide across his crease and make a very good save of the Drouin shot.
St. Louis pulled Allen with more than five minutes left. For most of that time, the Habs fought off the attack. With 30 seconds left, David Perron fired a puck past Price to bring the Blues within two. Allen left the net again after the faceoff. This time Weber intercepted a pass and fired the puck into the gaping net to polish off the 5-2 victory.
Before getting to the three stars, it is worth noting that every Habs player deserved recognition in this game. Every player did their job effectively and eleven different Habs finished with a point in this game. The Habs will take off for Minnesota after the game and take on the struggling Wild tomorrow afternoon.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Nick Suzuki
Suzuki did a lot of different things very well in this game. He was a key set-up man on the power play. He also looked very good on the penalty kill and had a couple of shorthanded chances. He capped off his game scoring his second goal of the year.
Stats:1G, +2, 3 SOG, 15:30 TOI
Second Star – Carey Price
For the second straight game, Price looked very calm, cool, and collected in the crease. He made several impressive saves in the game and was the main reason for the Habs’ successful penalty kills. His big windmill glove save in the second period was a key momentum swing that led to the fourth goal. This was a vintage performance from Carey Price.
Stats: 34 saves, .941 save percentage
Third Star – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Kotkaniemi looked dominant in the game today. He appeared to win every puck battle that he was involved with. He also looked very good with Jonathan Drouin. Kotkaniemi also made a beautiful pass to Drouin for the second Habs power play goal.
Stats: 1A, 2 SOG, 14:30 TOI
Honourable Mention – Nate Thompson
Thompson has been the ideal fourth line centre for the Canadiens since the season started. Whenever he was on the ice, the Habs seemed to have the puck. He was their best penalty killing forward and had many shorthanded chances. He also made a perfect pace on Suzuki’s goal in the second period.
Stats: 1A, +2, 2 SOG, 13:15 TOI