Coming off a frustrating loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens looked to re-group against the surging Toronto Maple Leafs. Alexander Radulov made his return to the lineup at the Bell Centre, while Joel Hanley also drew in for Greg Pateryn.
Both teams exchanged shots to open the period, but Montreal earned the early power play after Nazem Kadri was assessed a goalie interference minor after skating into Carey Price. Though the Canadiens got a few good looks, bad luck prevented them from capitalizing on any of them. Shea Weber saw his stick explode in dramatic fashion as he released his shot, while seconds later Alex Galchenyuk missed his chance to one-time Andrei Markov’s pass.
A minute after the Kadri penalty expired, Jake Gardiner was penalized for hooking Chris Terry on two-on-one sending Montreal back to the man advantage. This time around, the Canadiens had difficulty setting up in the Leafs’ end and spent much of the two minutes trying to get the puck past the blue line.
Though unsuccessful on that effort, the Canadiens would get on the board just minutes later. Shea Weber blasted Alex Radulov’s pass towards Frederik Andersen and Paul Byron was able to deflect the resulting rebound past the Leafs’ goaltender to give the Canadiens their first lead on the game.
The goal was immediately followed by Nathan Beaulieu heading to the penalty box for interfering with Nikita Soshkinov. Carey Price made a flashy glove save to deny Mitch Marner a goal, and Montreal’s penalty killers had little trouble killing the rest of it off.
Less than half a minute into the second period, the Canadiens found themselves back on the man advantage after Tyler Bozak was sent off for tripping Andrew Shaw. Galchenyuk one-timed Radulov’s precision pass by Andersen to double Monreal’s lead, less than five seconds into the power play. Radulov and Weber both earned their second helpers of the night on the play.
But just over five minutes later, Max Pacioretty took a holding penalty to give the Maple Leafs another power play opportunity, and William Nylander’s wrist shot found the back of the net to cut Montreal’s lead in half.
The third period started off on a different note, with both teams managing to stay relatively disciplined until just over halfway through the period. Though the Canadiens had an excellent chance to go up 3-1, David Desharnais just couldn’t get a handle on Brendan Gallagher’s pass at the side of the net.
Toronto began pressing through the beginning of the third, but Matt Martin brought that momentum to an abrupt halt by laying a dangerous hit on Nathan Beaulieu. With the puck nowhere in sight, Martin boarded Beaulieu, who was lucky to have gotten back up without suffering a significant injury.
An irate Beaulieu retaliated by trying to drop his gloves with Martin, before the referees pried the two apart. Both players received coincidental roughing minors on the play, while Martin was assessed an extra two minutes for boarding. The Canadiens were unable to make their opponent pay for the transgression while Martin watched from the box, however.
Montreal gave the Leafs a cance to pull into a tie less than five minutes later, when Charles Hudon was sent off on a questionable interference call. But like the Canadiens before them, the Leafs couldn’t manage to score on the man advantage. With time running out, Toronto pulled Andersen to get an extra attacker on the ice.
Desperate for a tying goal, the Maple Leafs threw everything and the kitchen sink at the net but they couldn’t get another one past the Canadiens’ goaltender. Price made 31 saves, allowing Montreal to hang on to its 2-1 lead and break their three-game losing streak in the process.
As the buzzer sounded, another dangerous hit was doled out near the boards. This time, it was Alexei Emelin who made a late cross-check on James van Riemsdyk, and both teams scuffled behind Price’s net. Luckily, van Riemsdyk was able to get back up and did skate off the ice on his own while Emelin was assessed a cross-checking minor as the final note on the game sheet.
- Alex Radulov was the difference-maker in this game. The Canadiens controlled just over 52% of even-strength shot attempts while he was on the ice, and he was directly involved in creating both the goals that were scored. He picked up two points in the game, and, more importantly, helped his team grab two points as well.
- Discipline was a huge factor in this game. Both teams combined to take nine minor penalties and each team was able to pot one goal on the man advantage. Despite the referees’ best efforts to curb it, the pot boiled over as the game came to a close.
- Brendan Gallagher can’t buy a goal right now. Though he got some good chances all game long, Gallagher just couldn’t find the back of the net. The forward has now been held off the board in his last 13 games, with his last goal coming in October against the Philadelphia Flyers.
In their next contest, the Habs will host the other Ontario club, welcoming Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the Ottawa Senators to the Bell Centre on Tuesday evening.