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Canadiens @ Flames game recap: In Price Alone

Price was in his net, and all was right with the world.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

After the debacle of a game that started off the Western Canada road trip, the Montreal Canadiens looked to get their game back in order with Carey Price in net against the Calgary Flames.

Right out of the gate, the Habs had a hard time getting out of their own zone, but they did eventually get their legs under them. Both teams picked up four shots early, and Price looking like he was settling in well.

Nearly eight minutes in, Tomas Tatar led the rush up the ice, Brendan Gallagher dug the puck out of the corner, and Tatar snapped the puck past Mike Smith to give them the 1-0 lead. Phillip Danault, who had looked good in the early going, got the second assist.

Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin had a good look on the next shift before play went the other way, and Price made a toe save to rob Johnny Gaudreau.

The Canadiens established some offensive zone pressure following a Jeff Petry rush, and they drew a power play when Mark Giordano put the puck over the glass. In typical fashion, one of the best five-on-five teams in the league was lethargic at five-on-four, and the Flames got the best look during the special-teams situation.

In the last 30 seconds of the period or so, Tatar led a beautiful rush up ice and dished to Gallagher. Gallaher got a beautiful look, but Smith turned it aside. Montreal was out-shot 13-9, but with a couple of exceptions, it was a decent first period.

Image credit: Natural Stat Trick

Calgary spent most of the first couple of minutes completely hemming Montreal in their own end, until Tatar temporarily relieved the pressure.

It didn't last though, as Xavier Ouellet took a hooking call trying to defend against Gaudreau. Unfortunately, Matthew Tkachuk scored through traffic to tie the game up.

Calgary continued to pressure after the power play goal, out-shooting the Habs 19-9 by the five-minute mark. The period improved a bit after that, Montreal getting some zone time of their own. However, that didn't last long, and they kept having to rely on Price to bail them out of trouble.

With less than five to go, the constant defending became too much, and after a frantic stint in the defensive zone, Tkachuk scored his second.

After two the Habs were out-shot 32-17 and pretty lucky to only be down one goal, thanks entirely to Price.

Montreal's start to the third was their best so far, though by the third minute mark, Calgary was back to pressuring. But even then, the Habs pushed back into the offensive zone far more often than they had previously.

That is not to say that they were truly good, as they still allowed a number of entirely-too-close-for-comfort opportunities.

Just shy of the half-way point, Noah Juulsen made a big play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and in the resulting cycle, Domi put the puck through the blue paint, and Jonathan Drouin tied the game.

Calgary hustled in the aftermath of the Drouin goal, but Shaw and Domi busted in on a two-on-one, and just narrowly missed scoring.

After all the terrible luck he's endured in the past weeks, the hockey gods finally gave one to Artturi Lehkonen, as he beat Mike Smith on a shot that most definitely should not have gone in.

Mikael Backlund took an unsportsmanlike penalty following the goal, and the power play went to work, for lack of a better word. In defense of the power play, they did actually establish possession but they never really looked dangerous.

Calgary pulled Smith for the extra skater with slightly over two minutes to go, Lehkonen narrowly missed the empty net, and somehow, miraculously, when the final buzzer sounded, the Canadiens had won. They'd been out-shot 45-22, they got lucky, and Price had to stand on his head. But they'd won.

And Carey Price is back.

Thoughts

  • Carey Price looked good. 43 saves on 45 shotss good. Calm, cool, collected, and focused like a laser. If this version of Price is back to stay, and the Canadiens can get themselves back together in front of him? Oh my. (It is, of course, only one game, but what a game it was.)
  • To think we thought Tomas Tatar was a side note in the Pacioretty trade. What an acquisition he's turned out to be. Is it possible that we're gonna regret that trade somewhere down the line? Of course. But for now it's looking pretty good.