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Canadiens vs Red Wings Game Recap: Max Pacioretty shines, as Habs dent Detroit's playoff hopes

The Montreal Canadiens bend but don't break against the Detroit Red Wings.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens have been eliminated from the playoffs following their loss to the New York Rangers. But truth be told, they knew they were eliminated well before that loss. Now, the team only has two choices in front of them, they can lick their wounds and call it a season or they can play for pride. And in this game, the Canadiens chose to do the later.

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Image Credit: HockeyStats.ca

Both clubs got off to a slow start, combining to put only a shot apiece on net during the first five minutes of the period. The Detroit Red Wings in particular, did not play with the urgency of a team fighting for their playoff lives. The Canadiens capitalized on their opponents' laissez-faire attitude, when Max Pacioretty redirected Joel Hanley's point shot past Petr Mrazek, a little over 8 minutes into the period. The Captain's 26th goal of the would put the Habs on the board first.

Less than four minutes later, Paul Byron would put the Canadiens up by two, potting his 11th of season by knocking Alexei Emelin's rebound over Petr Mrazek. Byron's goal would mark the end of Mrazek's night (who had given up 2 goals on 7 shots), with the goaltender getting pulled in favour of Jimmy Howard.

Fortunately for the Canadiens, switching goaltenders didn't have the effect the Red Wings were hoping for. Detroit grew increasingly undisciplined as the period wore on. Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser took consecutive interference minors, while Anthony Mantha was called for hooking to put the Canadiens on the man advantage to end off the period. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, their struggling power play couldn't generate many chances and they ended the first, 0 for 3 on the power play.

Despite the lack success on the man advantage, Montreal came out strong to start the second period. The Canadiens had little trouble controlling the flow of the game. Seven minutes into the period, the Canadiens put up 8 shots on net, while the Red Wings only managed to get one in return. But Montreal's momentum would come to a screeching halt, following Alexei Emelin's hit on Dylan Larkin.

Justin Abdelkader immediately took exception to the hit and wasted no time throwing punches at the Russian defenseman. Abdelkader received a 2 minute instigator penalty, a 5 minute fighting major and a 10 minute misconduct. Emelin in turn, received a 5 minute major for interference and 5 minutes for fighting.

Following a brief scoreless 4-on-4 sequence, the Detroit Red Wings got their first power play of the game. In spite of Mike Condon's desperate efforts in net, the Canadiens couldn't prevent the Red Wings from tying the game. Both Gustav Nyquist and Anthony Mantha would score a minute apart, to tie the game at two.

Montreal's penalty kill woes didn't end there, as they were soon forced to kill off Mike Brown's concurrent roughing and cross checking penalties after he had tried to drop the mitts with an unwilling Niklas Kronwall. Brown's indiscipline gave the Red Wings a 4 minute power play and Mike Green had no trouble blasting in a slapshot to give the Red Wings their first lead of the night.

Detroit's lead was short lived when less than 4 minutes into the third period, Alexei Emelin tied the game at three - or so it seemed. Detroit's head coach Jeff Blashill challenged the goal, claiming goaltender interference and upon video review, he was proven right. The referees concluded that Mike Brown's stick did impede Howard's ability to make the save and Emelin's goal was called back.

Fortunately for the Habs, Luke Glendening's ill timed delay of game penalty gave them a crucial power play not long after Emelin's goal was waved off. Sven Andrighetto tipped in Tomas Plekanec's pass to score his 7th goal of the season and finally snap Canadiens' unlucky streak on the man advantage. Andrighetto's power play marker tied the game at three. As the period winded down, Max Pacioretty would then score his 27th goal of the season, quickly putting in Alex Galchenyuk's pass to beat a sprawling Howard.

From that goal onward, the Canadiens never really regained control of the puck. Perhaps finally recognizing that their season was at stake, the Red Wings upped their intensity and pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, in a bid to tie the game. Though the Red Wings threw everything they could at Montreal as time dwindled down, Mike Condon withstood the barrage to give his team the win.

Thoughts

  • Max Pacioretty had a great game. The Captain rocked the highest positive Corsi differential on the team (the Canadiens controlled over 60% of even-strength shot attempts while he was on the ice) and he scored two goals on the night (the second of which was the game winner). Pacioretty's received a lot criticism this season, for everything ranging from his goal totals to his leadership ability but he put those doubts to rest, with his performance in this game.
  • Mike Brown was an unmitigated disaster. Between taking two unnecessary penalties while trying to provoke Niklas Kronwall (which led to a power play goal for Detroit) and interfering with Jimmy Howard (negating Alexei Emelin's tying goal in the third), Brown was making a compelling case for why the Canadiens shouldn't re-sign him. It isn't often that you can point to single player in a hockey game and state that they nearly single handily cost their team a win, but this was definitely one of those games for Brown.
  • Alexei Emelin wasn't trying to deliberately hurt Dylan Larkin when he hit him nor did he hit Larkin from behind. Emelin's hit on Larkin was clean, but just in the worst possible location. If anything, it looked like Emelin was trying to check Henrik Zetterberg and may have accidentally caught Larkin instead.
  • Joel Hanley is a point per game defenseman in the NHL, who now has 5 points in 5 games. Yes, the Joel Hanley that only had 8 assists in 61 AHL games this year.