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Canadiens vs. Predators game recap: Another bitter loss

Condon's stellar performance in goal only managed to get the Canadiens one point.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this game, the Canadiens found themselves sitting in a position where neither their odds of making the playoffs,  nor getting a top pick were very good. Heading out of the game, their position remains more or less the same.

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The Canadiens began their match against the Nashville Predators on an ominous note, with Lucas Lessio drawing in as a late replacement for an ill Dale Weise. With injuries taking a toll on Montreal's back end, both Mark Barberio and Greg Pateryn also drew into the lineup, while Nathan Beaulieu was shifted to his off-side.

Despite coming off an emotional win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, the Canadiens were a lethargic bunch early on. Though Nathan Beaulieu had excellent chance go off the post early into the first, the Predators capitalized on a delayed penalty call against Montreal. Viktor Arvidsson had no trouble redirecting James Neal's pass to put the Predators on the board first.

Though the Canadiens were rather listless after that Arvidsson goal, they woke up late in thh period. Brendan Gallagher initiated a scramble in front of the Predators' net with less than three minutes on the clock, and had no trouble tipping Markov's shot past Pekka Rinne. Gallagher's sixteenth goal of the season, tied the game at one.

With Ryan Johansen sent off for boarding at the end of the second, Montreal started the second period on the man advantage. Though Brendan Gallagher made himself at home in Rinne's grill during the power play, the goaltender still managed to turn away every shot Montreal threw at him.

For his part, Mike Condon shook off the early goal against and began putting in an incredible performance. He went save for save with Rinne, one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and arguably looked to be the better of the two throughout the game.

Late in the third, Sven Andrighetto's shot was seemingly poked into the net by Alex Galchenyuk, but Rinne was able to use his stick to prevent the puck from crossing the line.

Though Michel Therrien had argued for a penalty shot, pointing out that Predators' defenseman Roman Josi gloved the puck out the crease, he never covered it with his hand, so it was off to overtime. Montreal had the upper hand early on, taking advantage of the Predators inability to figure out 3-on-3.

But the Predators struck back by hemming in Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Mark Barberio at the tail end of a long shift, forcing Michel Therrien to use his timeout. A visibly gassed Pacioretty's clearing attempt found its way onto the stick of Plekanec, who would go on to lose the puck to Mike Ribeiro.

This led to a 2-on-1 the other way, with a sprawling P.K. Subban being unable to prevent Craig Smith from getting his shot off. Rather remarkably, Smith not only managed to hit the puck in - he managed to hit the puck back out as well, all on the same play. Unfortunately, this would also be the last break the Canadiens would get all game.

In the shootout, Smith redeemed himself by scoring the only goal, spoiling Condon's spectacular effort  and giving the Predators a 2-1 victory.


  • The Canadiens seem incapable of being creative with the puck. Forwards were often releasing their shots as soon as they had gained entry into Nashville's zone - despite being barely pressured by Nashville's defensemen.
  • The amount of icing calls that the Habs drew against themselves last night was insane. Many were attempts at breakaway passes, but others were just ill-advised dumps down the ice. On several occasions, they could have possibly gained the red line and just didn't. The dump and chase mentality has killed them all season, and one really has to wonder if it will ever change.
  • Though not much has gone right for the Canadiens this season, their penalty kill remains a source of strength. Ranked seventh in the league, Montreal's penalty kill has successfully killed off over 83% of all the penalties they've taken despite not having Carey Price in net.
  • Andrei Markov had a solid outing against the Predators, assisting on Montreal's only goal of the game, and leading all Canadiens defensemen by controlling just under 59% of even-strength shot attempts when he was on the ice.
  • Lars Eller is a monster. He was one of the few guys that was all over the ice last night, and playing with Max Pacioretty he looked extremely dangerous. They were the top two CF players on the Canadiens roster, controlling well over 60% of even-strength shot attempts. They should play together more.
  • Alex Galchenyuk needs a new shootout move. Galchenyuk has been one of Montreal's most consistent forwards employed on the shootout, but he hasn't had much luck scoring on it as of late.
It seems to be time to make a serious decision at the management level. That decision is whether or not it is time to pack it in and make moves for next year, which seems to be the case.

The next outing surely won't be an easy one, as they'll be heading to Washington to take on the Capitals, one of the best teams in the league.