After sweeping the weekend, the Canadiens welcomed the Red Wings to the Bell Centre Tuesday night. Al Montoya got the start, letting Price rest after playing both games in a back-to-back weekend.
As a nod to the new Hab, Claude Julien started Steve Ott’s line against his old team and the big forward made his presence felt early with a hit on his former teammate.
The physicality continued, though not as you’d want, as Nathan Beaulieu took an interference penalty just 45 seconds into the game. The Red Wings wasted no time, potting one just 8 seconds into the man advanage, Justin Abdelkader allowed free reign to take multiple whacks at the free puck.
The Habs responded with a partial breakaway for Andrew Shaw and some extended zone time for that same line, the best scoring chance coming from Artturi Lehkonen.
The teams continued to trade chances, a slightly speedier affair than their previous meeting, until the Red Wings took an interference call of their own. The Canadiens’ powerplay, featuring Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty on the points, got a handful of good looks at Jimmy Howard but only one shot.
The teams slowed down to a steadier pace following the powerplay, the Habs picking up momentum as the period ticked along, but they would head to the dressing room still down one after 20.
Ott again made his presence known early in the second, laying a crushing his at the red line, presumably hoping to spark his team.
It nearly worked as Lehkonen forced a turnover at the half boards shortly afterwards and centred the puck for a sneaking Phillip Danault to no avail.
A rush started by Torrey Mitchell afforded Ott a quick backhand toward Howard who managed to knock the puck wide. The Red Wings countered with a near two-on-one, deftly played by Alexei Emelin, eliminating even a shot on net.
Plekanec drew a penally after his line put some pressure on in the offensive zone. The ensuing powerplay looked a little lacklustre to start until the final 30 seconds as the Canadiens managed a multitude of chances, with the puck bouncing off posts, the side of the net, and even flying through the crease. A high stick touching the puck put an end to that pressure though, sending the play back to the Canadiens’ end.
The Habs used that momentum to their advantage until Beaulieu blew a tire at the blue line, affording the Red Wings a 2-on-1. Jordie Benn and Montoya combined forces to thwart the Red Wings’ attempt and keep the deficit at one. Alex Galchenyuk ended the second period on a line with Lehkonen and Shaw, in Julien’s attempt to kick start his team.
The third started with Brendan Gallagher battling in front of Howard, a sign of the tenacity with which the Canadiens would need to play the final frame.
It took some time coming but when it did, it was once again in the form of the Danault line, with Shaw drawing a penalty on Danny DeKeyser. The Habs managed a number of close chances, sticks breaking and flying in the process, but somehow they emerged from the man advantage still down one.
The Habs continued to press for the equalizer as time ticked away until, with just over two minutes to go, Lehkonen was rewarded for his stellar game with some open ice up the middle. He deftly wristed the puck past Howard as the entirety of the Bell Centre exhaled loudly.
Lehkonen's 13th goal of the year comes off a great individual effort. Assist to Beaulieu on the play. pic.twitter.com/hZQrYpHR7X— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 22, 2017
Early in the extra frame, Montoya was launched into his net after a collision with Mike Green, another Red Wings chance coming again as Montoya was still trying to put himself back together.
The Canadiens’ netminder would be forced to make a few more strong saves to keep the game going until Anthony Mantha dangled his way through the Canadiens’ skaters and sniped the puck past Montoya, handing the Red Wings the win.
- Al Montoya looked great tonight, keeping the Canadiens in the game until they could finally capitalize and take home a point. If only the skaters could muster up a handful of goals for their erstwhile back-up.
- Lehkonen deserved that goal. His line was buzzing all night and has been for the last couple games. Lehkonen’s goalless drought was a mere 6 games this go-’round, and if he can find a scoring touch to match his defensive prowess as the playoffs begin - look out.
- A bit of a let-down playing a non-playoff team after their emotional weekend sweep was a little bit expected. They’ll be better Thursday.