The Montreal Canadiens returned to the Bell Centre to welcome Mike Yeo and the St. Louis Blues. Al Montoya took Carey Price’s spot in net, while Nikita Nesterov, Brian Flynn and David Desharnais were made healthy scratches. Despite battling the flu, captain Max Pacioretty suited up.
After observing a moment of silence for Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, the game was on. It was all St. Louis early on, as a disorganized Montreal blue line and Al Montoya’s ill-timed slip, allowed the Blues to get on the board first. Patrik Berglund redirected Alex Pietrangelo’s shot into a wide open cage to give his team a 1-0 lead, less than four minutes into the game.
But the Canadiens found their footing as the period wore on. Despite having to kill off a holding penalty against Alexei Emelin, Montreal upped the pressure throughout the second half of the first. Philip Danault got the Canadiens first real scoring chance in the game when he found himself all alone in front of the Blues net, while Sven Andrighetto tried to convert on a Andrew Shaw takeaway later on. Though both were denied by Jake Allen, Shea Weber’s slapshot eventually blew past the Blues goaltender to knot the game at one heading into the second.
Unlike the first, Montreal came out a more confident squad in the second. The Canadiens outshot the Blues throughout the frame, but St. Louis would regain its lead when David Perron’s snapshot beat Montoya.
The Canadiens would respond less than four minutes later. Max Pacioretty capitalized on Alex Radulov’s hard work, by tipping Nathan Beaulieu’s smart pass through Allen to tie the game at two.
As the period came to close, with less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Berglund struck again to give the Blues their third lead of the game - one which they would not relinquish. Berglund tipped in Jay Bouwmeester’s pass, to score his second of the game.
The Canadiens came into the third desperate for a tying goal. They outshot St. Louis all period long, and one point held a 7-0 shot advantage over the Blues. As the team continued to pepper Allen with shots, the Canadiens would catch a break a little under halfway through the period. Montreal found itself on the man advantage, after Scottie Upscale was sent off for high-sticking Beaulieu. The power play yielded a few scoring chances for the Canadiens, but the team could not capitalize on them. Andrei Markov saw his stick explode as he winded up to take a shot, while Weber’s blasts were repeatedly blocked by Jori Lehtera and other Blues penalty killers.
Despite the Canadiens’ best attempts, including a last ditch effort which saw the team pulling Montoya for an extra attacker, they could not tie the game for a third time. Instead, Berglund put the puck into the empty net to complete his hat trick and deny the Canadiens of another two points.
- Max Pacioretty continues to produce for the Canadiens. The captain scored his 28th goal of the season and ended the game with two points on the night. The Canadiens also controlled 79% of all even-strength shot attempts while he was on the ice - which was the second highest on the team. Despite early season rumblings regarding Max Pacioretty’s production, the captain is proving why he is an integral part of the team with his play down the stretch.
- Was there anyone of the ice who was more unlucky than Sven Andrighetto? The Swiss forward got a couple of good looks all game long, but couldn’t manage to put one into the back of the net. Though he did not manage to get on the scoreboard, chemistry seems to be setting in between him and Andrew Shaw, with both players setting up the other throughout the game.
- Goalie woes are spreading. Al Montoya did not look good. Ending the game with an .818 SV%, Montoya gave up 3 goals on 21 shots. And the first two of the three goals, were arguably ones that he should have been able to save. Instead, he lost his footing on the first goal and gave up a very weak goal to Perron.