We’ve seen this movie before. The Montreal Canadiens trailed the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 after the first 20 minutes of a mid-week game at the Bell Centre, and it looked like they were on their way to another hapless loss.
That’s not what happened. The Canadiens fought back to tie the game three times before ultimately falling 6-5 at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
It was not a great start for Montreal. Just 1:34 into the game Jakub Jerabek turned the puck over in the corner, and Jordie Benn just watched as Teuvo Teravainen scored his first of two of the game.
After Montreal wasted their first power play chance, Carolina extended their lead on their first opportunity with the extra player. Victor Rask took the shot that was saved by Carey Price but David Schlemko was beat to the rebound by Jordan Staal, who didn’t miss the open cage.
Perhaps the lone bright spot of the entire first period was after Jeff Skinner skated around the entire defensive group the Canadiens had on the ice. Luckily, once he got to the goal line, Price was able to dive back and get the puck with his stick before Max Pacioretty cleared the puck away.
After Phillip Di Giuseppe took a wild skate into Byron Froese, that looked at full speed like half-accidental, half-knee-on-knee, Jacob de la Rose came to the defence of his teammate and fought.
Going into the second period, the Canadiens did show a bit more jump and it finally culminated when Jeff Petry’s point shot hit off of both posts before falling to the front of the net where Charles Hudon was there to pot his fifth of the year.
What we didn’t know was that the goal would create havoc for the next three minutes of game action.
Just 39 seconds after Hudon’s goal, Brendan Gallagher was in the high slot when he just turned and fired one past Carolina goaltender Cam Ward and suddenly, improbably the game was tied.
It wouldn’t last long.
Nineteen seconds after the Canadiens tied it, they would be trailing again. The puck would find a wide-open Skinner at the side of the net, who would tap the loose puck past a diving Price, who wouldn’t be able to make a second diving save on the Canes forward.
Teravainen would capitalize on a Victor Mete turnover to break in alone on Price and roof a backhand less than 30 seconds after Skinner made it 3-2. It was the fourth goal in 1:27.
But, again the Canadiens wouldn’t fold. After his initial shot was blocked, Hudon fired the bouncing puck past Ward for his second of the game to make it a one goal game, again, after a whole 1:24 without a goal.
They would tie it up later in the period. Jeff Petry, who had one of his best offensive games since coming to Montreal, walked in down the right side untouched and fired a shot five-hole on Ward to make it 4-4.
But even though there was 1:18 remaining in the period, it would not end tied. After another ill-timed pinch by Benn, and a poor team effort on the backcheck on the ensuing odd-man rush, Derek Ryan would score with only six seconds remaining in the second period.
Again, you would have expected Montreal to fold after failing to keep the game tied again, and so late in the period. But their effort in the third period would reward them again.
On a power play midway through the period, Petry’s shot would be tipped by Pacioretty past Ward. Don’t look now, but it was Pacioretty’s 16th goal of the season.
But in the story of the game, it would last just 10 seconds before Justin Williams would tip home a Teravainen shot to give the Canes another lead, this time 6-5, and this time for good.
The Canadiens would push back, and get a few chances late in the period with Price pulled, including Paul Byron hitting the post, and forcing the Hurricanes to ice the puck repeatedly but could not capitalize.
- After weeks of Canadiens fans complaining not so much about the losing, but the boring play, this sure was fun but I’m sure Claude Julien is less than pleased about the defensive zone coverage (and with reason).
- It’s nice to see Charles Hudon get rewarded. His stats belie the way he has been playing and driving the team’s offensive play, so this was good to see. His play with Pacioretty and Byron has been great, and the set up with him and Byron sharing face offs looks good. Byron also looks like a centre.
- This game shows why Jeff Petry is so valuable. He jumps in the play, he keeps plays alive, and the team is dangerous offensively when it has a defenceman who can do these things. If Petry wasn’t playing as well as he has, the team would miss Shea Weber much more than they are.