The Montreal Canadiens started the game strong, and held on through a sloppy third period to secure a 7-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre on Monday night.
Jonathan Drouin scored his first two goals of the season, including the first on a penalty shot and Tomas Tatar had a goal and two assists against his former team in the win that saw the Canadiens with a 6-1 lead until a third period bobble.
Right off the bat, Drouin used his speed to get behind the Red Wings defence, and had the stick slashed out of his hands. The referee was quick to call a penalty shot, and Drouin used a familiar move to score his first official goal of the season.
Drouin became the first Canadiens player to score against Detroit on a penalty shot since Russ Courtnall beat Tim Cheveldae in 1990.
Nearly 10 minutes after Drouin opened the scoring, Tomas Plekanec, playing in his 1000th game, made the lead 2-0.
Plekanec, remarkably, became the fourth Canadiens player to score a goal while playing their 1,000th NHL game, joining Henri Richard, Larry Robinson, and Alex Kovalev.
Andreas Athanasiou pulled the Red Wings within one just 28 seconds later but that was as close as the Red Wings would get to the Canadiens.
Just over two minutes later, Tomas Tatar would use a bouncing puck to score his third goal of the season against his former team. The goal was originally given to Phillip Danault, but it was changed during the intermission. It restored a two goal lead for the Canadiens with nine seconds remaining.
Montreal would score three more goals in a second period they dominated. It started with two goals in 43 seconds in the period’s first 4:35. Brendan Gallagher would take a beautiful feed from Tatar to make it 4-1, and then Charles Hudon would find the open spot and take a perfect feed from Matthew Peca to make it 5-1 and chase Jimmy Howard from the game after allowing five goals on 20 shots.
Jonathan Bernier would enter the game, and wouldn’t fare much better. On the power play, Drouin would pick up the loose puck and roof a backhand over Bernier to make it 6-1. The goal was challenged by the Red Wings for goaltender interference but the goal was upheld.
Montreal would have eight high danger scoring chances in the second period, and allowed none to the Red Wings. In terms of overall scoring chances, it was 10-5 for the Canadiens in the middle frame.
The third period saw Detroit score two goals in three minutes in bizarre fashion. Athanasiou would score his second goal of the game on a pass from Luke Glendening. Just prior to the pass, Glendining would get his stick up on Jeff Petry, who fell to the ice, and would be bleeding. There was no call on the play. Petry would return to the game.
Later in the period, Drouin would be obviously hobbled after blocking a shot and struggled to clear the puck. Tyler Bertuzzi would then give Drouin a shove and Xavier Ouellet would not have any of it, and the two would go off for fighting.
Thomas Vanek would then score to make it a 6-3 game with an assist going to Anthony Mantha.
Montreal would get back on the board as the line of Paul Byron, Joel Armia, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi finally got into the action to return the score to 7-3. It was Armia’s first assist as a Hab.
The Canadiens outshot the Red Wings 35-28. Bernier made 13 saves on 15 shots. Antti Niemi got his second straight win, making 25 saves.
- The third period blip wasn’t ideal, but it was to be expected. You can’t expect to play with the same type of urgency with a 6-1 lead, and, even despite that, the second goal really should not have counted.
- The power play struggled for Montreal, as they went 1-4 on the night. However, the goal they did score was their best power play by far. There was puck movement, the players were moving around, and making it hard on the Red Wings to defend. That’s what they need to do more of to have success.
- Antti Niemi made a big save in the game’s opening stages on Athanasiou, who had a great game for the Red Wings. It allowed the game to remain scoreless before the Canadiens scoring got going.
- This was probably Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s worst game so far this season. He was worst on the team in Corsi For percentage, despite playing most of his night against Detroit’s fourth line. The team will need to make a decision on him soon, and how he responds from Monday’s game will go a long way in which way the Canadiens go.