The Habs were in search of something positive on Thursday night after a very rough last couple of weeks. However, they were in tough on the road against the Washington Capitals. But after squandering a lead in the last twenty seconds, the Habs rebounded to pick up the overtime victory and halt their losing streak.
Brendan Gallagher was good to go after missing the game on Tuesday, and Artturi Lehkonen was scratched. Victor Mete was out after taking a heavy shot off the foot last time out. This meant that Christian Folin was called up to play in his spot.
Early in the game, Max Domi had a breakaway chance, but he was stopped by Braden Holtby. Shortly after, Nick Suzuki sent a beautiful high flip pass for a Paul Byron breakaway, but Holtby came up with another stop.
Eight minutes into the period a quick shot off the faceoff from Alex Ovechkin found its way past Carey Price for the game’s opening goal. One minute later, Jonathan Drouin was called for tripping. The Canadiens killed off the penalty and found Drouin with a pass as he left the box. He made a quick wraparound, but he couldn’t pull it all the way around inside the post and bounced his shot off Holtby.
With two minutes left in the period Montreal found their response to tie the game. Phillip Danault sent the puck back to Shea Weber. With Brendan Gallagher providing the screen in front, Weber fired it off the post and in.
Montreal had a quick chance to start the second period and they drew a cross-checking penalty on Ovechkin but the power play wasn’t great for the Canadiens. The only chance came just as the penalty expired, when a Weber one-timer was smothered by Holtby.
The Habs went on to carry the play throughout most of the second period. Montreal sent attack after attack at the Washington net and had the Capitals on their heels. However, just like most of the season, pucks slid just wide of the net, and the ones that were on net were stopped.
Despite carrying the play, Montreal found themselves down with three minutes to go in the second period. Brett Kulak tried to poke check the puck away, and it popped up in the air. Former Hab Lars Eller was there, and he plucked it out of the air and into the net.
Fortunately, the Habs were able to find a quick response. With 1:23 left on the clock, Gallagher brought the game back to even. It was a vintage shift from Gallagher. After being knocked down in front, he turned around and kicked a rebound off his skate to his stick, and fired it in for his 20th.
The Canadiens almost gave up a last second goal, when Michal Kempny was forgotten in front of the net. He got some good power on a one-timer but a quick flash of the leather from Price prevented a disastrous goal against.
The Canadiens had a much better start to the third period. Just thirty seconds in, Tomas Tatar found Ben Chiarot in the high slot. Chiarot had all the time in the world and fired it home for the first Montreal lead of the night.
The Canadiens went on to play a solid shutdown period for most of the third. They did a good job of keeping the Capitals away from their net and played some good defensive hockey to protect the one-goal lead.
With 1:48 left Washington pulled their goalie in search of the equalizer. The five Habs players collapsed low in the zone and were holding off a furious attack. With twenty seconds left, there was a very tired collection of Habs players on the ice. Washington took advantage and Tom Wilson poked the puck through Price to send the game to overtime.
Just under a minute into the extra frame, two of the Habs went to change. Domi stayed out and went into the zone one against three. He took a long shot, then found his rebound. Chiarot came into the zone and Domi fed him for the one-timer. And just like that the Habs’ losing streak was over.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Ben Chiarot
With Xavier Ouellet leaving the game within the first five minutes, Chiarot and Kulak were relied upon for some heavy minutes. Kulak also struggled with a couple of turnovers. This meant that Chiarot carried the Habs’ left defence all night long. On top of that, he scored two goals including the game-winner in overtime.
Stats: 2G (GWG), +2, 4 SOG, 4 hits, 28:05 TOI
Second Star -Tomas Tatar
The top line was the only reason the Habs were even in this game. They were in the offensive zone on every shift and generated all kinds of chances. Tatar was a plus-3 on the night and helped make plays that led to all three goals.
Stats: 1A, +3, 3 SOG, 15:53 TOI
Third Star – Brendan Gallagher
Gallagher’s line was the reason the Habs won. Gallagher is always ready to pay the price and take a beating to make the right play. Despite some injury issues this year, Gallagher hit twenty goals again and still has time for some more.
Stats: 1G, +3, 2 SOG, 16:04 TOI
Honourable Mention – Shea Weber
Along with Chiarot, Weber was tasked with playing some heavy minutes. The captain led by example, despite playing on an ankle that was supposed to take 4-6 weeks to heal. His goal in the first period gave the Habs some much-needed life after going down in the first period.
Stats: 1G, +1, 5 SOG, 24:25 TOI
Following the game, it was announced that Ouellet suffered a concussion which makes it highly unlikely that he will be available to play on Saturday in Ottawa. Victor Mete has also been ruled out for that one so a recall from Laval is likely coming at some point on Friday.