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The Habs kicked off the first of a back-to-back stretch as they were in Detroit on Tuesday to take on the Red Wings.  They overcame some penalty trouble and were able to skate away with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Martin St. Louis made two lineup changes for this one while shaking up some combinations a little bit.  With Josh Anderson serving the first game of his two-game suspension, Evgenii Dadonov was activated off IR while on the back end, Johnathan Kovacevic returned, taking the place of Chris Wideman.  The team lined up as follows:

Caufield – Suzuki – Dach
Dadonov – Monahan – Drouin
Hoffman – Dvorak – Gallagher
Slafkovsky – Evans – Armia

Guhle – Savard
Edmundson – Xhekaj
Harris – Kovacevic

It was a quick start in terms of pace with there being 4:30 played before the first whistle in the game.  The only quality chance in that stretch was from Detroit as Dominik Kubalik was left all alone in front but Jake Allen was able to make the stop.

Two minutes after that, Brendan Gallagher skated up the left wing and threw a weak shot on net.  It went off the right pad of Ville Husso and the netminder kicked a juicy rebound out front where Mike Hoffman was right there to put it home and open up the scoring.

The Red Wings got the first power play of the game a minute and a half after that as Arber Xhekaj was called for interference on Elmer Soderblom.  Montreal had a good penalty kill and while they allowed a couple of shots, they were able to kill it off.

The Habs then got their first advantage as Copp was called for a hook on Kovacevic.  The first unit had some zone time but couldn’t generate much.  At the end of that shift, Jonathan Drouin lost the puck at the offensive blueline, springing Dylan Larkin for a breakaway.  Allen made a stop on the initial shot but Drouin was called for a slash on the play, triggering a penalty shot.  On that attempt, Larkin lost control of the puck early and couldn’t get much of a shot off.  The Canadiens couldn’t do anything with the rest of the power play.

Momentum was quickly shifting to the home side and Detroit was able to get on the board with three and a half minutes to go.  Andrew Copp sent a quick pass to Kubalik from behind the net.  Kubalik spotted Austin Czarnik who was unchecked from the bench to the front of the net (where he was left all alone) and a quick pass to Czarnik was fired past Allen.  Not even 90 seconds later, Joe Veleno was left all alone in front (not a great early pattern from the defence) but Allen stopped his backhander.

It looked like the Canadiens would be able to sneak to the room with the game tied but it wasn’t to be.  Instead, with 15 seconds left, Gallagher’s weak shot (this time from the middle, not the left) went off the right pad of Husso who once again kicked out a juicy rebound to Hoffman in the slot.  History repeated itself and Hoffman potted his second of the night to give Montreal an undeserved lead at the buzzer.  Shots on goal in the opening frame were 16-8 for the Red Wings.

Neither team was able to muster up a whole lot over the first stretch of the second period.  A few shots each but nothing too dangerous.  That changed as Montreal got themselves into some penalty trouble.

First, Jordan Harris was called for tripping Mason Raymond.  On the power play, Larkin found the soft spot in the middle of the ice (there’s that coverage gap again) and got off a strong shot that Allen kicked away.  Late in the advantage, Kubalik was left all alone on the far side but whiffed on the shot.

14 seconds after that penalty was killed off, Kaiden Guhle was called for a hold on Michael Rasmussen.  On that power play, Larkin found the coverage gap in the middle again not once but twice but both times, Allen made the stop and the Habs were able to hold down the fort once more.

With a little less than six minutes left, Kirby Dach turned it over at the offensive blueline.  Moritz Seider gave chase and got control and while Dach was able to get back in coverage, it was still a three-on-one.  Seider found Rasmussen with a well-placed pass but Allen got his skate on the shot to keep it out.  With five minutes left, the Habs actually got some zone time with a jumbled trio that had Dadonov with Sean Monahan and Juraj Slafkovsky.  They didn’t score but there was some legitimate pressure.  With how much they struggled offensively in the period, pressure counts as a highlight.

Detroit got a third power play of the frame when David Savard was called for a trip on Rasmussen that was basically two minutes for pushing him down.  The penalty kill did a nice job once again and the Habs were able to survive a rocky second period and kept their lead intact despite being outshot 14-9.

Savard wasn’t a fan of the call and made his opinion known at the buzzer, earning himself ten minutes in the box to start the third.  That resulted in the defensive pairings being shuffled up and players on their off-side but to their credit, the Habs were pretty clean defensively in the first half of the third period.  On the offensive side of things, they had some more zone time than they did in the second.

However, less than a minute after Savard exited the box, the Red Wings tied it up.  Pius Suter’s shot hit Allen’s pad with the rebound bouncing right back to him.  He sent a cross-ice feed to Raymond who made no mistake.

Things got even worse for Montreal with a little over five minutes left as Juraj Slafkovsky was ejected for boarding Matt Luff, putting the Habs back on their heels.  However, the penalty killers were sharp in the first two minutes and then Soderblom gave the Canadiens a break when he was called for interference on Joel Armia.

On the four-on-four, Harris nearly went end-to-end and drove the net but his shot just went wide.  It was a confident play that seemed to catch Detroit’s defenders off guard.  No one scored in that segment and Detroit went back to the final minute of the major power play.  The Habs survived it on the heels of some shot blocking after some failed clearing attempts as they secured at least a single point.  The shots in the third were 12-10 for Montreal.

The overtime was a back-and-forth affair.  Larkin hit the post on the opening shift while Hoffman came close on a two-on-one with Dach on the next shift.  Two minutes in, Kubalik made a nice cross-ice feed to Filip Hronek but his one-timer was stopped.  90 seconds later, Guhle attempted a stuff play from behind the Detroit goal but Husso got a piece.  20 seconds after that, Hoffman and Dach were in on a two-on-one again that was once again thwarted.  In the dying seconds, Hoffman was called for a trip, giving the Red Wings 22 seconds to try to score.  They couldn’t do it and it was off to the shootout following an exciting extra session that saw Montreal outshoot Detroit 4-3.

In the shootout, Caufield went low glove on Husso and Suzuki after going wide eventually went blocker side and in to give the Canadiens a quick 2-0 lead.  David Perron went glove side to beat Allen and after Jonathan Drouin was stopped, Allen stopped Larkin to secure the victory.

HW Habs 3 Stars

1st Star: Jake Allen – Remember the days when Carey Price stole games for Montreal?  This was one of those performances from Allen.  The Habs were far from the better team in this one and Detroit had long stretches where they controlled the play.  But in the end, he held things down with one of his best performances as a Canadien.

Stats: 2 GA on 43 shots, 1.85 GAA, .953 SV%

2nd Star: Mike Hoffman – The veteran wasn’t all that impactful on a shift-to-shift basis but he scored the only two goals of the game for Montreal so it’s kind of hard not to put him here.  Full credit goes to him for driving the net on both those goals instead of hanging out on the perimeter as he tends to do and those good habits were rewarded.

Stats: 2 goals, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 5 shots, 13:09 TOI

3rd Star: Brendan Gallagher – He was more noticeable than Hoffman but surprisingly didn’t play all that much with the lowest TOI of any player that wasn’t ejected.  I liked how he did the ‘shot-pass’ off Husso looking for a rebound both times.  It’s a play the Habs don’t do often enough and I liked that he read that it worked the first time and tried it again.

Stats: 2 assists, +1 rating, 5 shots, 11:12 TOI

Honourable Mention: Joel Edmundson – Here are some numbers for you.  11:22 – the time the Habs spent shorthanded in this one.  8:12 – the time that Edmundson was on the ice shorthanded.  0 – power play goals allowed.  The penalty kill was a big factor in Montreal coming away with this victory.  Aside from Allen, Edmundson was the biggest factor on the penalty kill so he’s more than deserving of this nod.

Stats: 0 points, -2 rating, 3 hits, 7 blocks, 23:38 TOI