The Dallas Stars were looking to break .500 and get their top line going. The Montreal Canadiens were trying to continue their strong start. It was set up be an offensive night at the Bell Centre.
Montreal got off to the better start, getting the first four shots and Mikey Reilly ringing iron.
Though they were unable to get anything going in an early five-on-four chance, the Habs came on thick and fast once they returned to full strength, including a strong shift from the fourth line, which eventually led to Brendan Gallagher drawing a penalty against Tyler Seguin. Jonathan Drouin tried to get the Habs’ power play moving, but had absolutely no help, and the second advantage died with a whimper.
There was a frightening moment where Mattias Janmark collided knee-on-knee with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but fortunately the rookie popped up and appeared to be none the worse for wear.
With two minutes left in the period, it looked like Max Domi was going to keep his scoring streak alive, but his shot was forced way off course. Despite a scoreless first, the Habs got 10 shots to Dallas’s three, and generally looked like the better team.
Phillip Danault took a penalty 10 seconds into the second, but Artturi Lehkonen forced a turnover, and then was awarded a penalty shot when John Klingberg hooked him on the breakaway. Ben Bishop shut the door on the Finn’s chance.
The miss prove a key one soon afterward, as Esa Lindell scored his first of the year on a lapse in the penalty kill.
The Habs continued to ring iron, this time it was Drouin beating Bishop but not the bar.
Nicolas Deslauriers took a penalty with just over five minutes gone. Jordie Benn tied up Jamie Benn in front of the net to prevent the most dangerous look on the power play. The Canadiens had some short-handed rushes before the power play came to an end, but though that helped them survive the penalty, the Habs immediately gave up another goal, this time to rookie Miro Heiskanen.
Paul Byron, who left the game midway through the second, did not return for the third, and as a result Charles Hudon was bumped up to Kotkaniemi's line.
Gallagher scored three minutes in, but Klingberg pushed him into Bishop, and the Stars challenged for goalie interference. After a long review, the goal stood, and the Canadiens had drawn within one.
Domi tripped up Bishop on the very next shift, but the Habs killed off the penalty handily and then pressed forward, drawing a power play of their own thanks to a terrific shift from Gallagher and Tatar with 12:11 to go.
Domi nearly set up Tomas Tatar for the tying goal on the power play, but instead Devin Shore capitalized on a bad turnover by Artturi Lehkonen, and made it 3-0.
Jamie and Jordie tangled along the boards a little later, and Hudon found himself bumped up to a line with Domi and Drouin, while Lehkonen was dropped to the line with Kotkaniemi and Armia.
It had looked like Domi had drawn a penalty after Polak got dinged, but then Domi got taken off as well, and earned an extra unsportsmanlike conduct call to put the Habs on the kill.
Armia and Alzner, of all people, got in on a two-on-one, but after the good work, Armia took down Benn, and the Habs went down five-on-three.
Things continued to unravel as Jamie Benn took down Jordie, and got called for tripping with five to go.
Claude Julien pulled Price for the extra skater, and then Radulov scored into the empty net to make it 4-1, because of course he did.
Overall, it was a very weird game. The Habs played very well early, and even after things fell apart, they didn't allow all that many looks (only two shots in the first, and six in the third). However, every single mistake they made turned into a goal against, and their inability to cash in on their own chances ultimately cost them.
- Hudon looked so much better than the rest of the fourth line, Deslauriers especially looking slow.
- It was a very nice touch that Montreal honoured Jason Spezza on his 1,000th game, with his parents in the building.
- Kotkaniemi continues to make beautiful passes and plays, even if he doesn't score, or even if he misses the puck entirely.
- It's been a long time since the Tampa/Montreal playoff meetings, but I'm still so tired of Bishop.