The prospects of the Montreal Canadiens got off to a slow start in their game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins’ young guns on Friday. They gave up a goal 21 seconds into the game, and faced that same score when the first period ended. From there, it was all Montreal as the team scored eight times in the final 40 minutes to come away with a convincing win. (Check out all the highlights from the game if you missed them the first time around).
Will Bitten’s passing skills were on display from the get-go, as he helped directly set up Daniel Audette for the first goal of the game to put the Habs’ prospects on top. The pass changed the angle just enough to fool goaltender Antoine Bibeau.
Will Bitten uses his great speed to back off the Leafs defenders and sets up Audette for a big goal. pic.twitter.com/dlyvM7jPIS— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) September 17, 2016
The Leafs began to find their game soon afterward, but Zachary Fucale repelled their best effort with an incredible lateral save.
Zach Fucale with a highlight reel save! Tremendous lateral movement here: pic.twitter.com/GR1SXBkZBN— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) September 17, 2016
Unfortunately, he didn’t look very good on the Leafs’ next chance, letting in a weak goal that tied things up at one goal apiece. The period ended at that score.
The Leafs came out playing the way you’d expect a pool full of early draft selections to perform in the second, and got their first lead of the contest on a shot from Tony Cameranesi. The lead was extended to two moments later by Tobias Lindberg.
Showing his competitive spirit (and legitimizing any comparisons to Brendan Gallagher), Bitten drove to the net looking to get the Habs back in it, but Bibeau wasn’t thrilled with having the new draftee in his crease.
Will Bitten with a great shift. Gets into HD zone, then draws penalty. Showcasing speed, hands & smarts. pic.twitter.com/VizVR0yAOU— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) September 18, 2016
Partway through the third, the Canadiens got a power play, and were able score their second goal. A point shot from Victor Mete was swatted at by Michael McCarron and Artturi Lehkonen, with the Finn being the one to make contact for his first goal as a Montreal Canadien, building upon the three assists he had in the first game versus the Penguins.
Another power-play chance later in the period saw the top line of McCarron. Lehkonen, and Nikita Scherbak on the ice once again, and this time it was McCarron who finished off the play, finally rewarded for a strong effort all game long.
McCarron uses his reach to turn nothing into something. A nice drive to the net ties the game at 3. pic.twitter.com/QcsduKA3Xp— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) September 18, 2016
Montreal had a few chances to take the lead, but just couldn’t capitalize on some glorious opportunities. In the end, it was a chance at the other end that netted a result, with a shot from Andrew Nielsen getting past Fucale to give the Leafs a late victory.
Andrew Nielsen sends it through Fucale. The Leafs take a late lead. pic.twitter.com/dEtbaXkR0V— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) September 18, 2016
The Canadiens wrap up the rookie tournament with a game versus the prospects of the Ottawa Senators at 1:00 PM EDT tomorrow.
Be sure to follow Mitch Brown on Twitter for his insights and analysis on Habs prospects and 2017 draft elegibles throughout the season.