The Canadiens played their second game of the season on Saturday night in Toronto. The Habs featured the same forward lines as the season opener; Tatar-Danault-Gallagher, Lehkonen-Domi-Suzuki, Drouin-Kotkaniemi-Armia, and Byron-Thompson-Weal. The defence pairings also remained the same with Mete-Weber, Chiarot-Petry, and Kulak-Fleury. Carey Price was given the nod in goal for the second straight game.
The Canadiens did not have a great first two periods, but they were able to rally and come back from a three-goal deficit in the third period, and walk away with a 6-5 shootout win.
The Habs got off to a great start, showing great speed right from the opening draw. Just over a minute in, Artturi Lehkonen picked up the puck off the boards at centre ice, and with a burst of speed, the Habs were in on a two on one. Lehkonen feathered a perfect pass onto Max Domi’s stick, and he tapped it home for the first goal of the hockey game.
The game continued with a very fast pace and the teams exchanging chances at either end. Then just over six minutes in, Cale Fleury turned a puck over at the Montreal blueline. There was a scramble in front of the net and then it popped back to the point. A screened Carey Price could not see the puck, and it got behind him for a 1-1 tie with Auston Matthews getting the goal.
Just over a minute in, Tomas Tatar was called for holding in the offensive zone, sending the Leafs to the first power play of the game. The Habs played very aggressively on the kill and were quite effective. Only one shot was allowed, and it was steered aside by Price.
With four minutes left in the period, there was a turnover behind the Habs net. It was corralled by the Leafs and a wide-open Alex Kerfoot shot a one-timer past Price to give the Leafs their first lead of the night. Montreal responded with some great chances of their own and they were rewarded with a power play with two minutes left.
One minute into the power play, the Habs had a miscue at their bench and were called for too many men, negating the advantage. In the dying seconds of the period, both teams had an opportunity with a two on one rush, but both were turned aside. The Habs went back to the dressing room with a one-goal deficit.
The Habs were able to kill the Leafs remaining power play time to start the second period. Then less than a minute later after the Habs had the puck in the Toronto zone, the Leafs took it back the other way with a two on one, and Trevor Moore doubled the Toronto lead.
At the six-minute mark, there was a scrum in front of the Toronto net and Jonathan Drouin was somehow called for slashing, sending the Maple Leafs to their third power play. There was a shot off the post early in the advantage. Other than that, the Habs had another good kill and were back in business.
Toronto was given yet another power play when Tatar was called for tripping in the offensive zone. The Habs bent but did not break. They completed the kill still down by two. Montreal tried to get some momentum back with some offensive zone time, but the Leafs counter attacked. By the 15-minute mark, the Habs were being outshot 23-16.
In the final five minutes of the second, the Canadiens started to get their stride back and played with more speed. They had some good chances, and came close, but were unable to convert them. The teams went into the intermission with Toronto leading 3-1.
Before the start of the third, Julien threw his forward lines into a blender. The results were; Drouin-Domi-Byron, Lehkonen-Kotkaniemi-Armia, Suzuki-Thompson-Weal, with the top line staying together.
Four minutes into the third, the Leafs were given another power play when Phillip Danault was sent off for tripping. Early on, Toronto made a cross-ice pass for a one-timer, but Price was able to come across and make a nice save. However, their penalty killing fortunes came to an end as William Nylander put one past Price to extend their lead.
Just seconds later, Max Domi made a strong play into the zone and made a great pass over to Jonathan Drouin, who put it in off the skate of the defender to bring the Habs back within two. The Habs continued to gain momentum, and off an offensive zone faceoff win, Shea Weber got a shot on goal. Brendan Gallagher corralled the rebound and brought the Habs within one barely a minute after Domi’s goal.
These two goals brought some much-needed life to the Habs and they looked like a new team. The next several minutes were played almost exclusively in the Toronto zone. With just under nine minutes left in the period, the Leafs were caught for interference. This sent the Habs to just their second power play. With 11 seconds left, Kapanen threw a broken stick at Petry, resulting in a penalty shot. Petry went in alone on Michael Hutchinson, and made no mistake, firing it right past him to tie the game.
With just a little under five minutes left, the Habs struck again. There was a scramble in front of the net, and Danault put the loose puck into the net to give Montreal their first lead of the game. The Habs couldn’t hold on to their lead, however, and with a minute left a rebound bounced to Matthews in the slot and he made no mistake for his second of the night to tie it up at five apiece.
The Habs came close to regaining their lead but could not find the net. For the second straight game, the Habs went to overtime. A minute into the overtime, Danault was in on a two on one and forced John Tavares to take a slashing penalty, sending the Habs to a four on three power play.
The Habs game plan for the power play was clearly to set up the big Weber one-timer. Weber had several shots but the Habs couldn’t find the back of the net on the man advantage. As it expired, Tavares was sent in on a breakaway but was stopped by Price’s quick glove. With under a minute left, Domi looked like he had the winner, but it was off the crossbar. Overtime solved nothing, and the game went into the shootout for the second straight night.
Price stopped Mathews first. Paul Byron went five-hole for the lead. Price made a stop on Mitch Marner. Weal was stopped by Hutchinson. Price then stopped Tavares to secure the comeback victory.
This game was not great through the first two periods. However, this Canadiens team showed a lot of character in completing this huge comeback victory to give them three of a possible four points in the early going this season.
HabsWorld’s Habs Three Stars
First Star – Max Domi
Even when the Canadiens were struggling through the first two periods, Domi continued to play very well. He scored the first goal and added a helper. He was all over the ice tonight, being very effective in all three zones. Domi continues to be a spark plug, and a very important piece to this Canadiens team.
Stats: 1G, 1A, +1, 6 SOG, 18:05 TOI
Second Star – Brendan Gallagher
Gallagher simply does not take a night off. Aside from Domi, he was Montreal’s most effective forward in this game. Gallagher went to the dirty areas and gave everything he had to help the Canadiens win. This included finding the rebound for a key goal to bring the Habs within one.
Stats: 1G, 2A, +3, 7 SOG, 17:07 TOI
Third Star – Phillip Danault
The Habs probably do not win this game without Danault’s effort. He was the Habs’ best penalty killing forward, and one of the reasons the Leafs only went 1/5. He also scored the goal to give Montreal a late lead. Add in an assist and that is a great night for Phillip.
Stats: 1G, 1A, +2, 2 SOG, 18:54 TOI
Honourable Mention – Jeff Petry
Petry was a key contributor to the Habs defence. He, along with his partner Ben Chiarot, held their own in the defensive zone. He was also an important puck mover for the Habs’ power play. Most importantly, Petry came in clutch with the penalty shot to tie the hockey game.
Stats: 1G, -1, 7 SOG, 28:02 TOI