Typical of matinée games, both the Montreal Canadiens and host Detroit Red Wings took their time finding their legs in the first frame, as neither looked particularly dangerous in the other’s zone.
Less than a minute and a half into the first period, Nathan Beaulieu gave the Red Wings a man advantage when he took the skates out from under Andreas Athanasiou against the boards. But with the worst power-play percentage in the league, Detroit was (thankfully) unable to successfully gain control in the Habs’ zone until the dying seconds.
Successful backchecking at both ends would prohibit either team from establishing any real offensive pressure, and though they had a handful of attempts before that point, Montreal only recorded their first shot on goal as Alexei Emelin confidently walked in and got a shot in through traffic.
The Red Wings, in turn, sent the Canadiens to their first power play of the game near the midway point of the first period when Anthony Mantha bagged a slashing call on Jeff Petry in the offensive zone. Much like Detroit, the Canadiens were unable to generate much of anything on their first attempt.
The pace of the game picked up after the Canadiens’ power play expired and things opened up a little more at each end. Both teams exchanged a handful of chances, but the most interesting opportunity came when Petry turned the puck over to Athanasiou in the neutral zone. He came in all alone on Carey Price before attempting to deke and lift the puck on the backhand, but Price’s glove had the answer.
The second period opened with significantly more speed than its earlier counterpart, kicking off with a good chance down low for Max Pacioretty. He threw the puck in front of the net to a waiting Radulov, but he was unable to get his stick down in time.
Moments later, the captain and the recently returned Alex Galchenyuk exchanged one-time opportunities, and the Canadiens held the zone with look after look, but it was Jared Coreau and his shot-blocking teammates who came up big to keep the game scoreless.
Effectively putting a stopper in the momentum the Canadiens were steadily gaining, Jacob de la Rose took a holding call in the offensive zone to send the Red Wings off on their second man advantage of the afternoon. Though unsuccessful on this attempt, Detroit’s power play looked much more composed as they held the zone for almost all 120 seconds, which included a hum off the post from Henrik Zetterberg and a tipped shot from Mike Green.
At the other end of the ice, Pacioretty and Galchenyuk were at it again. Patch flew into the offensive zone seemingly all alone and made a beautiful drop pass for #27, but Galchenyuk couldn’t bank it in. The Canadiens shifted the momentum in their favour, getting a handful of good chances, featuring back-to-back attempts from Beaulieu, whose first shot rang off the post, while his second cannon from the point knocked the mask off the Detroit’s goaltender.
Paul Byron missed an opportunity for an easy one when Petry’s hammer off the backboards wound up right at his feet as he stood a foot and a half in front of the Detroit net, but he could only locate the puck when it was too late. Emelin’s second chance of the afternoon came when Mantha tipped his shot in front of Coreau, but the Red Wings’ netminder was there to read the play.
As the Canadiens and Red Wings exchanged offensive pressure at both ends of the ice and both goalies stood tall, it would eventually be Price who cracked when Vanek’s body deflection bobbled off his pad to put Detroit on the board.
The marker gave the Habs the boost they needed to swing the momentum back in their favour for the dying minutes of the second period, but they would come out empty-handed after 40.
The pace of the first half of the final frame left something to be desired as both teams slowed considerably to keep the game tight. Nearing the midway mark, an incensed Pacioretty was called for hooking to put his team on the penalty kill for the third time.
Detroit managed a few good looks on Carey Price, but the Canadiens’ goaltender — and Shea Weber — weren’t in a particularly giving mood, keeping it a one-goal contest.
Though they were successful in killing off the captain’s penalty, the Habs didn’t have very much else going for them in the third period. Whether by turning the Canadiens’ away from their zone or putting their bodies in front of the puck, Detroit kept the Habs off the shot clock, leaving le Tricolore with only two shots to show for 12 minutes of play.
A high-sticking call on Galchenyuk put his team at a disadvantage yet again, but Price kept their heads above water. With the power play expired, Weber made a drive right into the glove of Coreau, and he was forced to make his own rebound save when the puck bobbled right back out of his glove.
Both netminders remained perfect through the final minutes of the third. Price made his way to the bench with a minute to go, but the Canadiens couldn’t make much of a six-on-five opportunity and Coreau came away with the shutout on home ice for the afternoon matchup.
- Nathan Beaulieu was penalized for his turnover in the first period that sent the play the other way, but the defenceman kept his head. He helped the team in driving the (lacklustre) offence and left the game with a handful of good chances. He hasn’t been playing his best hockey of late, and his pairing with Petry had to be broken up after another showing of poor chemistry, but he seldom lets that get the best of him.
- Despite the loss, this was a great game for Carey Price. He kept his team in it when Detroit came rolling by, making key saves through traffic and just being Carey. This was his best game in a couple of weeks, and you have to think that this game was a turning point for him.