The Habs looked to build on a strong win against the Kraken on Monday but had a daunting task ahead of them as the road-perfect Los Angeles Kings were in town trying to make history as the first team to ever start a season with 11 straight road wins. Montreal put up a rather strong performance and they were likely a few bounces from having this game be much different. The posts that were hit were all on the same side though and the Kings never looked back as they defeated the Canadiens by a 4-0 score.
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Juraj Slafkovsky
Sean Monahan — Jake Evans – Josh Anderson
Tanner Pearson – Christian Dvorak – Brendan Gallagher
Michael Pezzetta — Mitchell Stephens — Jesse Ylonen
Mike Matheson — Gustav Lindstrom
Kaiden Guhle — Justin Barron
Jayden Struble — Johnathan Kovacevic
1) The entire first period saw the Canadiens win puck races and puck battles and spend far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive zone. The Kings were extremely disciplined in their structure though as they allowed very few chances in the middle of the ice, making Cam Talbot’s job much easier as he stopped all 13 shots that got to him. Los Angeles scored twice on their 11 shots.
2) Montreal got the only two power plays of the first period. The first one was ugly, but the second one was quite dangerous as both Pearson and Slafkovsky missed golden chances while Monahan hit the post.
3) The Kings’ first goal was a poor coverage read by Kovacevic as he made his way to a player who was already covered which allowed Drew Doughty to skate past him and beat Montembeault.
4) The second goal was a rather soft play by Guhle. He didn’t expect the Quinton Byfield power move to the inside, was surprised by it, and never recovered as Byfield got by him before using his long reach to go around Montembeault.
5) It was much of the same to start the second as Slafkovsky, who was by far the best Hab on the night, once again protected the puck in the offensive zone before finding Suzuki who rang one off the post.
6) Six minutes into the second, the teams played a short stretch at 4-on-4 before the Habs got a 4-on-3 power play. The power play was once again dangerous without capitalizing and this proved to be the kiss of death as momentum really shifted after this failed man advantage.
7) With Los Angeles firmly in control, Dvorak was sent to the box for tripping. On their power play, yet another bounce went the Kings’ way. Kevin Fiala’s stick broke on what would have been a basic shot. Instead, the puck trickled to Anze Kopitar who immediately found Byfield on the back door for a tap-in and a 3-0 lead in the final moments of the second period.
8) The Habs came out for the third going through the motions, and the Kings playing a 1-3-1 that made the period look like watching the 1990’s New Jersey Devils did nothing to improve the show for the fans in attendance. It was low-event boring hockey at its finest.
9) Just before the halfway point of the period, Barron skated backwards into the official. This opened the door for Trevor Moore (Where was Guhle?) who skated in alone and buried the Kings’ fourth and final tally.
10) If Slafkovsky is playing his best hockey of late, Caufield is fighting it a little bit. One way he could get out of it is by being a little less predictable. An example of this is the short side shot from the wing. Last night, on two occasions (one on the power play and one at 5-on-5) Caufield tried that low-percentage shot, but Talbot clearly knew it was Caufield and that he tends to try that shot because he was actually cheating to the short side which is uncommon. The book seems to be out, and the young sniper needs to vary his attack tendencies to keep the opposition honest.
HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars
1st Star – Juraj Slafkovsky
The decade-long debate around Habs fans has been speed and skill vs size and power. But what happens when your size and power can play with speed and skill? This is what we are starting to see out of Slafkovsky and the results are simply awesome as everyone is on the same page that Slafkovsky has been the Habs best player of late, and by a wide margin, I might add. This game was no different as a very good group of defenders had to answer to Slafkovsky handling them and protecting the puck down low. Now, imagine if he can continue to play this way and his teammates start burying the chances he’s creating?
Stats: even, 1 shot, 18:16 T.O.I.
2nd Star – Samuel Montembeault
Montembeault wasn’t tested much in the first and didn’t have much of a chance on any of the Kings’ four goals. He made some big stops in the second period to keep the Habs within striking distance. He was left to himself in the third, but it was too late by that point.
Stats: 38 saves on 42 shots, 4.03 GAA, .905 save %, 59:36 T.O.I.
3rd Star – Mike Matheson
Matheson continues to use his skating to open lanes and create offensively. He gets in trouble when he tries to play that way in the defensive zone at times, but this didn’t really happen against the Kings and he was able to be a threat in the offensive zone for the better part of the first two periods.
Stats: -1, 1 hit, 2 shots, 23:37 T.O.I.