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Canadiens vs. Flames Recap: Red hot special teams lead to a win

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Alex Radulov scored two powerplay goals as the Habs defeated the Flames 5-1.

Calgary Flames v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

After letting a point slip away on Saturday night to the Buffalo Sabres in overtime, the Canadiens needed to redeem themselves with a complete effort, and take advantage of a tired team coming off a road loss the night before.

It did not look good early, with Nathan Beaulieu giving up the puck in the neutral zone leading to a two on one for the Flames that resulted in two big saves from Carey Price to keep it scoreless. With the early crisis averted, the Canadiens got to work and started to build their game plan. By the ten-minute mark, the Canadiens had only two shots on net, but had been controlling much of the play, with shot attempts 11-5 in the Canadiens’ favour. By this point in the game the Flames had already blocked five shots, including two howitzers from Shea Weber on the powerplay.

The first period was played in a very structured manner from both sides. Neither team took too many chances, but at least the Canadiens were pressing the pace.

Their tenacity would pay off with 42.2 seconds remaining in the frame. After a dump in by Jeff Petry with Sven Andrighetto speeding into the zone, Andrighetto recovered the puck and found Andrew Shaw alone for a one-timer that beat Chad Johnson and gave the Habs the game’s opening goal.

The Canadiens started the second period by taking a couple of penalties, but would end up benefiting from being shorthanded. Johnny Gaudreau fanned on a pass that sprung Tomas Plekanec on a two-on-one, where he used Paul Byron as a decoy and netted in his seventh of the season to put the Habs up by two.

The Canadiens extended their lead to three goals 4:09 later, with Alex Radulov capitalizing on a perfect set up on the powerplay from Nathan Beaulieu, who found him all alone on the other side of the ice for a clear shot into a wide open net. It was only the Canadiens’ third shot of the period.

The Habs would maintain a three-shot tally until under five minutes left in the second period, ending the frame with two goals on just six shots on net, while the Flames had registered eleven and were leading 22-13 on the shot-clock.

The Flames came out to start the third controlling most of the play and keeping the Canadiens from registering a shot attempt until almost five minutes into the period.

It didn’t matter.

The Canadiens made it a four-goal game on their fifteenth shot of the game and just their second of the third period with Daniel Carr blasting home his second of the season and first in twenty-five games. Carey Price picked up an assist on the goal, the 12th of his career and first since 2014-15.

The Canadiens weren’t done. With 3:53 to go, Alex Radulov netted his second powerplay goal of the game, beating Chad Johnson on the backhand after recovering a puck knocked loose by Tomas Plekanec who won a battle along the sideboard and earned an assist on the goal for his effort.

With under two minutes to go, the Flames had another powerplay to work with and were on a mission to not be shutout after the effort they put in all night. With fractions of a second remaining, Sam Bennett would slip one past Carey Price and the clock to make it a 5-1 final.

Thoughts:

  • The Canadiens penalty kill in the second period made all the difference. The Habs killed four penalties in the frame, including an extended two-man disadvantage. With a shorthanded goal to boot, that second period effort from the penalty kill was the cornerstone of last night’s victory.
  • The Flames looked like a struggling team. They had plenty of opportunities including multiple powerplays and a multitude shooting opportunities. Even though they outshot the Canadiens by a wide margin, it never seemed like the Canadiens were in danger of losing grasp on this game. In the end the Habs held the shot attempt advantage (44-35) when you factor in score effects.
  • The Canadiens dominated a game against a weaker opponent. They need to win like this when the they have all the advantages. The Flames are struggling and also coming off a road game the night before. They were ripe for the taking and the Canadiens took care of business.