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Canadiens vs. Red Wings game recap: Starting on the right foot

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Alex Galchenyuk’s overtime winner completed the comeback.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Detroit Red Wings Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Though Montreal controlled the puck early on, neither team was able to put many shots on net. It wasn’t until five minutes in that the Canadiens were able to get one of their best scoring opportunities of the game. Artturi Lehkonen had a chance to put the puck past Petr Mrazek into a gaping net, but Detroit’s goaltender made an unbelievable glove save to deny him a goal.

20161126 5v5SA Corsi Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

A few shots were exchanged by the two teams as the period wore on, but the Red Wings especially struggled to find their footing after getting off to a sluggish start. The trio of Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, and Brendan Gallagher continued to push for a goal as time ran out, but their drive didn’t sit well with the Red Wings. A late period scuffle ensued with 2.4 seconds left on the clock, and Plekanec and Tomas Tatar received coincidental roughing minors to end the period.

Both teams started the second period playing 4-on-4 hockey but returned to full strength without having given up a goal. Neither team was able to generate many shots despite more ice to work with, but Detroit came out stronger in the second period then they did in the first.

Less than halfway through the second frame, Carey Price had to make a couple of saves on Anthony Mantha. During the same sequence, Alex Galchenyuk was called for hooking to give the Red Wings their first power play of the game. The Montreal penalty killers had little trouble negating the man advantage and the score remained tied.

As the period came to a close, Phillip Danault had a knee on knee collision with Brendan Smith. Smith seemed to be in considerable pain and had to be helped off the ice. Danault earned a roughing penalty on the play, giving the Detroit Red Wings another late penalty to end the period.

Despite starting the third period down a man, Montreal’s penalty killers were once again able to prevent Detroit from going up a goal. But unlike the first two periods, the Red Wings continued to press and broke the deadlock just over three minutes in. Justin Abdelkader’s quick release beat Price to give the Red Wings the first lead of the game.

Detroit followed up that goal with a holding penalty. Though captain Henrik Zetterberg was sent off for the infraction, the Canadiens couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing power play. Zetterberg would nearly come back to haunt the Habs, as he forced Price to make a difficult left pad save to keep it a one-goal game.

Price’s saves would pay off when just over halfway into the third, Brendan Gallagher scored the tying goal. The right winger broke a 16-game goalless drought by tipping Plekanec’s pass past Petr Mrazek. No other goals were scored at even-strength and Gallagher’s marker pushed the game to overtime.

The Canadiens almost immediately found themselves down a man in extra time, after Shea Weber was assessed a questionable slashing penalty less than half a minute in. But Montreal withstood the resulting 4-on-3 play and created a 2-on-1 rush the other way as the penalty expired. Though Weber hit the left post on his attempt, Montreal would get a do-over with Alex Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk a couple of minutes later. That duo made no mistake, as Galchenyuk converted on Radulov’s pass to score the game-winner and give Montreal another two points.

The win makes Montreal one for one so far on their five-game road trip, with games against all three California teams upcoming ahead of a date with the St. Louis Blues.

Thoughts

  • Carey Price continues to be Carey Price. Not only did he make ten more saves than his Detroit counterpart, he did so in spectacular fashion. Despite the Red Wings pushing for goals near the end of the second period and the beginning of the third, Price was a brick wall and withstood the barrage. Price ended the game having made 32 saves and posting a brilliant .970 SV%.
  • Alex Galchenyuk is scoring at a point per game pace. The young centreman has now put up 22 points in 22 games, and his overtime winner was his ninth goal of the season. Despite his impressive numbers, however, he was still not the most used forward in this game and only received around 16 minutes of total ice time.
  • The line of Artturi Lehkonen, David Desharnais, and Andrew Shaw had a terrible game. The three combined to generate four shots on net and the Canadiens went on to control just 40% of even-strength shot attempts while the trio was on the ice.

The Habs will take off for California with another two points in the bank, and prepare for three games in the Golden State starting with a matchup in Anaheim on Tuesday night.