One of the better starts in recent games for the Montreal Canadiens was undone by an offside challenge on Saturday, erasing the second goal of an early 2-0 lead. The reversal deflated the team, allowing the Washington Capitals to take over and score the next four goals on their way to a 6-4 win.
The disallowed goal was doubly disappointing for Brendan Gallagher, as it was his goal that was wiped off the board. Fortunately, after the game was over, a closer look at the fourth goal the Habs had scored, one originally credited to Jonathan Drouin, revealed it went in off of Gallagher instead, restoring his season total to 28.
He had been making news for the number of times he’d opened the scoring this year, but in the last two games it’s been at the tail end of the contest that he’s found his goals. The late tallies have given him a great chance to hit 30 goals for the first time in his career.
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He will be happy to see the Detroit Red Wings coming into the Bell Centre tonight. It’s the opponent the Canadiens have seen the most offensive success against this season, averaging eight goals through two games: a 6-3 win in their first meeting of the season, and a 10-1 drubbing two days later. Gallagher has three of the 16 goals Montreal has scored in the season series.
It’s been a fairly uneventful season for the Red Wings. It may be the team talked about the least this year, with few storylines to latch onto. The team isn’t bad enough to be in the conversation with the likes of the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes, and was not good enough to pose a threat to become a challenger in the playoff race.
After a 25-year streak of making the post-season, the Red Wings will start a new one when they miss the playoffs for a second year in a row. Poor performances in the last few years of that record run raised some red flags about the team’s depth, and now all those years of relatively low draft positions are being felt throughout the organization.
On the back end, the team is without Mike Green. After being unable to move him at the trade deadline, he has played his last game of the season, requiring spinal surgery as he heads for unrestricted free agency this summer. He was by far the team’s top offensive blue-liner, leaving them with few defenders capable of helping the offence in his absence.
Despite a similar record to what the Habs have managed, the Red Wings can’t point to injury woes as the source of their dismal performance. Their top players have dressed for nearly every game this season, and yet they have just one 20-goal-scorer and three players with 40 points. Henrik Zetterberg is projected to have the lowest goal total in a full 82-game season in his career, and is 20 points below the mark of 68 he posted last year.
The Wings have given up at least four goals 10 times in their last 12 games. The young Habs forwards who have continued to produce despite the overall struggles of the team down the stretch will be looking to boost their season numbers against a squad with little ability to stop them.