The Seattle Kraken came to Montreal on Saturday, for their first-ever visit, looking to break out of the losing streak, while the Habs were trying to win a fourth consecutive home game.
The Habs did not roll over and play dead, but they did struggle in trying to beat Philipp Grubauer, both in the game itself and the shootout. The good news from this game was that the Habs consolidated their lead in the race for a top draft pick.
The First Power Play Is the Best
The two league cellar-dwellers certainly didn’t light any fireworks early, as it took more than three minutes for Seattle to register their first shot, a Jordan Eberle wrister on Sam Montembeault, and at this point, the Habs had exactly zero on their shot total.
Action heated up soon thereafter, though, and a minute later Nick Suzuki made a nice play from behind the Seattle net, first spotting Cole Caufield, and then waiting until the young sniper was ready. A quick pass, then, and a one-timer snapped by Caufield — and a save by Grubauer.
Five seconds later, Suzuki got the puck back to Caufield again, in nearly the same spot, only to be foiled by Grubauer again. Alexander Romanov then shot the rebound at the net, but the Kraken netminder made a third save within a 10-second span.
The Habs went on the power play at 5:19, after Vince Dunn interfered with a streaking Paul Byron on the right-side boards. St. Louis started the power play with Artturi Lehkonen, the Finn with the hot hand as of late, Rem Pitlick, and Mike Hoffman. Lehkonen had a chance early on the power play, but the puck hit the goalpost to the left of Grubauer and bounced out.
The Canadiens would manage three more shots on Grubauer while on the man advantage, but would not get on the scoresheet.
The Kraken gave them another chance as Ryan Donato was called for slashing on Suzuki at 8:54. But less than 30 seconds later, Josh Anderson lost the puck to Colin Blackwell in the Kraken zone. Blackwell rushed out, with Yanni Gourde alongside.
Blackwell, harassed by Chris Wideman, lobbed the puck toward the Habs’ net, where Montembeault made a fairly easy save and snatched the puck in his trapper. He then quickly handed it to Wideman to keep the power play moving — but did not see Gourde curling around the net.
Wideman only had the puck on his stick for a second or two, before Gourde stripped it from him just in front of the Habs’ net and flipped it into the yawning empty space to the left of Montembeault for a shorthanded marker and a 1-0 lead for the Kraken.
Only a minute later, still on the same power play, it was Mason Appleton making a short-handed rush — and the puck was in the Montreal net once again.
This time head coach Martin St. Louis wasn’t willing to accept it and challenged to goal on the basis of Appleton having been offside. The video review was mercifully quick, and the goal was waved off.
With five minutes remaining, Jake Evans made the extra effort to skate into the Kraken end for a loose puck. Grubauer mishandled it, allowing Evans to pick it up at the back of the net. Evans then spotted Michael Pezzetta driving for the net and sent the puck to the “Wild Thing”.
Pezzetta caught the pass with his right skate and deflected it onto his stick, and then took a wrist shot just as he was being hauled down by Jaden Schwartz. In the net, for a tie game and Pezzetta’s fifth of the season.
Alas, that did not last long, as at 16:32, Ryan Donato snapped a puck past Montembeault, being in the right place at the right time to catch the bounce off the backboards from a Marcus Johansson shot.
The Habs might yet have clawed that back, as with 1:30 left on the clock, Ryan Poehling sent Armia onto the offensive, along with Lehkonen. Armia, fighting the Kraken defence, made a pass to Lehkonen while falling down, and Lehkonen had a golden scoring chance — but he was, in turn, being wrestled down by Jamie Oleksiak.
Shots were 16-9 for the Habs in the period, but high-danger scoring chances were tied at three each.
Grubauer Gives No Second Chances
Morgan Geekie started what would turn out to be a parade of minor penalties in the second period, having been called for holding the stick in the first minute of the period. The Habs’ power play looked much less capable this time, though, as compared to the first period. Gun-shy after the shorthanded chances the Kraken had in the first maybe?
It was Seattle’s turn, then, as Pitlick was sent to the box for tripping at 3:10. This time Lehkonen had the shorthanded chance, trying to backhand the puck through Grubauer’s five-hole, but without success.
Before the power play was completed, the Kraken gave it back, fumbling on a line change and getting caught with six skaters on the ice. The resulting four-on-four segment as well as the subsequent Montreal power play were really non-events, though, and the Habs were again held shotless on the power play.
As the halfway point of the game approached, Seattle started cranking up the pressure — or the Habs were turning listless; it was not always clear what was the case. At 8:56, Montembeault made a pretty glove save on a Donato wrist shot to keep the Habs within one.
But, then, at 14:35, Anderson roughed up Calle Jarnkrok in front of the Seattle goal, initiating a full-team rumble on the boards. Unfortunately, Anderson’s was the only penalty called, and it was another Kraken power play.
It took only 30 seconds for the Kraken to chomp down on the Habs’ penalty kill. As the four red sweaters converged on Johansson on the right side of the ice, the left side was left unguarded. Johansson got a pass out to Jared McCann, who had all the time in the world, and rifled the puck over Montembeault’s shoulder for a 3-1 lead.
This time the Kraken outshot the Habs 13-8, and also edged the home team 5-3 on the high-danger scoring chances.
The Third (and Final) Chance to Do Some Scoring
The bleu, blanc, et rouge looked better to open the third period, and the effort paid dividends early with the Habs applying pressure in the Seattle zone. Pitlick had an excellent chance from the right side of Grubauer, but just missed the open net that was beckoning him.
The puck bounced out to the left side, though, and Alexander Romanov was ready with a one-timer slap shot. Grubauer had time to slide across the net but not to come out and better cover the angles, and Romanov’s slapper eluded him, putting the Habs back within one at the 1:04 mark.
Pitlick had another chance on wrist shot three minutes later, but Grubauer shut the door once again. Hoffman, too, had a chance at an open net, as Grubauer was sprawled on the ice at 8:13 of the period, but Jeremy Lauzon managed to block the shot.
At 9:42, Lauzon was sent off for holding Caufield, giving the Habs their fifth man advantage of the night, but once again there was little power in their play as the Canadiens failed again to register a shot on Grubauer.
The Habs showed some signs of life at this point, and the Armia-Poehling-Lehkonen unit had some strong scoring chances, but all of them fell short of getting across the goal line.
At 17:48, though, Suzuki, skating in on the right-side boards, sent a pass across to Romanov, who was driving for the net. However, Adam Larsson intercepted the pass — and inadvertently sent it through Grubauer’s five-hole. Suzuki was credited with the goal, his fourteenth of the year, sending the game to overtime.
The Habs were outshot again in the third, this time 9-5, but edged the Kraken 3-1 in high-danger chances.
If It’s Not Over After Overtime …
The Habs started the overtime with Suzuki, Caufield, and Jeff Petry on the ice. They looked good but could not maintain control of the puck.
Caufield stole the puck in the Habs’ zone and then lost it to Schwartz. However, Suzuki took the first shot, only to be stoned by Grubauer again.
Chiarot made the move of the overtime, bullying Jarnkrok in the Kraken zone, stealing the puck, and snapping a wrist shot, but Grubauer was sharp once again.
As the clock ticked down in overtime, Lehkonen broke in and had a solid chance, but Grubauer made the save. The goalie started to skate the puck out, but Lehkonen moved into his way, which triggered Grubauer, who started pushing Lehkonen. No penalties were called, though.
The overtime shots were 4-3 for the Canadiens, with neither team having had a high-danger scoring chance.
The shootout, then: the highlights were recorded by the two goalies, Montembeault’s five saves and Grubauer with two saves and a poke check on Suzuki. However, with three of the Habs shooting either wide or high of the net, it was Johansson that finally put one past Montembeault, in the seventh round of the competition.
4-3 final for Seattle as the extra point goes to the west coast, leaving the Habs three points behind both Seattle and Arizona, and again in the lead in the Shane Wright sweepstakes.
HW Habs Three Stars
First Star: Alexander Romanov (1g, 1a, 3 shots, +1, 21:59 TOI) not only scored his long-awaited third goal of the season but played a strong game overall with heavy minutes. A team-high xGF%, 4-1 high-danger chances, and heavy minutes with Joel Edmundson getting a gentle reintroduction to the NHL.
Second Star: Michael Pezzetta (1g, 0a, 1 shot, 7 hits, 5:42 TOI) made the most of his limited ice time and combined skill and effort to tie the game back up in the first period.
Third Star: Samuel Montembeault (35 shots, 32 saves, 0.914 save %) misjudged the play on the Gourde shorthanded goal, passing the puck in front of the net without checking where Gourde was. However, he was solid after that, keeping the Habs in the game with numerous high-danger saves, and then making six consecutive saves in the shootout.
Honourable Mention: Artturi Lehkonen (0g, 0a, 3 shots, 17:42 TOI) was back on the bottom line, but he made things happen with Armia and Poehling, and the trio finished the game with the best statistics (Corsi, Fenwick, and xGF%) of any of the Habs forward units — albeit no goals to show for it.
Speaking of Edmundson’s gentle reintroduction to the NHL, the team announced after the game that he will not play on Sunday in Philadelphia. With Kale Clague going on IR earlier today, Corey Schueneman was recalled from Laval and is expected to play against the Flyers.