Having lost six in a row, the Montreal Canadiens attempted to get back on course against a depleted Anaheim Ducks team. The Ducks were without the services of some of their top guns, including captain Ryan Getzlaf, giving the Canadiens a perfect opportunity to get a well needed win on the road.
But Montreal started the game on the wrong foot, giving up an early goal to Dennis Rasmussen on Anaheim’s second shot of the game. The Canadiens then followed that up by putting the Ducks on the power play, as Alex Galchenyuk got sent off for an ill-timed tripping penalty.
Despite losing defenceman Cam Fowler to injury on the ensuing man advantage, the Ducks managed to score a power-play marker to double their lead. Derek Grant redirected Francois Beauchemin’s shot past Carey Price to make it 2-0 for Anaheim, less than four minutes into the first.
Frustrations boiled over for Montreal after falling behind yet again. After some pushing and shoving in Price’s net, Andrew Shaw got into a scuffle with Nick Ritchie. Both players served time in the penalty box for roughing, while Shaw received an extra penalty for cross-checking and Ritchie for slashing.
The Canadiens continued to get outshot throughout the first frame, and only registered their first shot nearly halfway into the period. They also had to contend with the Ducks physical play, which saw Ales Hemsky leave the ice with an upper body injury and not return for the remainder of the game.
Montreal’s tough luck didn’t end there as Antoine Vermette’s shot tipped off of Karl Alzner’s stick and landed in the back of the net, giving Anaheim a three-goal lead to start the game. Though the Canadiens would escape the frame without surrendering another goal, the Ducks dominated the first period, outshooting the Canadiens to a tune of 21 to 7.
After a lethargic performance in the first, coach Julien shuffled his lines to start the second period. Max Pacioretty found himself next to Danault and Shaw, and the trio drew a quick penalty as Vermette was sent off for slashing less than a minute into the second. The Canadiens would get a glorious opportunity on that man advantage, when Shaw found Pacioretty all alone in front of the net but the captain couldn’t hit the net, as his shot flew wide of John Gibson.
But seconds after the penalty expired, Paul Byron put the Habs on the board to make it a two-goal game. Byron potted a bouncing puck off the backboard behind an unprepared Gibson to cut Anaheim’s lead. Both Karl Alzner and Jordie Benn notched assists on the play.
Not long after the goal, Montreal was back on the power play on Andrej Kase’s faceoff violation penalty, though once again, the Canadiens were unable to end their power-play woes. But pushing their luck, the Ducks continued their march to the penalty box, as Francois Beauchemin became next player to be sent off for hooking Brendan Gallagher.
Despite firing blanks on the man advantage all game long, Montreal was finally able to break through on their fourth power play of the period. Gallagher’s persistence paid off when he got his stick on Victor Mete’s rebound and fooled Gibson to make it a one-goal game in the dying minutes of the second.
It was quite a reversal of fortune for the Canadiens, whose disciplined effort saw them put up 30 shots in the period, outshooting and outworking the Ducks in the process.
Montreal picked up where they left off in the third, taking advantage of Anaheim’s depleted defence corps. But any momentum the team carried over from the second frame was quickly dashed when the Ducks regained a two-goal lead just under six minutes into the period. Brandon Montour scored on a fortuitous bounce, when Silfverberg’s stick broke on a delayed Canadiens penalty.
Anaheim went on to add two more goals in the span of a minute. Grant got his second of the night, after beating Alzner in the crease to pot the Ducks’ fifth goal of the game. Seconds later, Chris Wagner took advantage of another defensive breakdown to wrangle Corey Perry’s pass and beat Price to make it a 6-2 game. In response, the Canadiens star netminder showed some rare emotion, breaking his stick in frustration.
Adding insult to injury, the referee watched idly as Kevin Bieksa was given free rein to continuously punch Shaw, and then he retaliated. Both players earned dual misconducts on the play, while Bieksa was given an additional four-minute roughing penalty on top of that. Unsatisfied with watching his teammate being sent off, Nick Ritchie also ended his night early by earning a 10-minute misconduct of his own.
For Montreal, being down four goals in the third took the wind out of their sails. Unlike in the second frame, the Canadiens couldn’t mount a comeback first by squandering their four-minute power play, and as the period wore on, by taking ill-advised penalties of their own. The Habs spent the dying minutes of the game down a man, and dropped this game to the Ducks by a score of 6-2.
- The Canadiens completely broke down in the third period. Whatever momentum they had carried into the final frame was dashed by giving up three goals in quick succession. Perhaps more worryingly, after the Ducks scored their first goal in the third, it seemed as though the team as a whole was demoralized. Despite it only being a two-goal game at that point, it was as if the team felt they had already lost the game.
- Andrew Shaw did not deserve the 10-minute misconduct he was given during the third period. The onus was on the referees to stop these type of plays from occurring. Yet, they did nothing as Bieksa blatantly got away with straight up using Shaw as a punching bag.
- Montreal’s special teams play has been terrible. Both the penalty kill and the power play rank among the worst in the league. The assistant coaches who are responsible for this mess and are currently employed by the team today shouldn’t be tomorrow.