How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In the Canadiens region: TSN2, (English), RDS (French)
In the Red Wings region: Fox Sports Detroit
Elsewhere: NHL.tv / NHL Live
The Canadiens had a relatively long wait after playing their second game of the season; a first win 2019-20 after an impressive third-period comeback versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was the second straight game to go to a shootout, and this time Carey Price stopped all three shooters he faced to get the victory.
Last night, Montreal once again went beyond regulation, claiming a point for a third consecutive game to begin the year when the horn sounded at the end of the third. Unfortunately, Phillip Danault had gone into the penalty box just moments earlier, and the red-hot Buffalo Sabres power play got another chance to go to work at four-on-three. The penalty-killers hung on long enough for Danault’s sentence to come to an end, but he had just skated a few strides when Marcus Johansson scored to end the game. The win placed the Sabres at the top of the Atlantic Division, and one point back of the top spot in the NHL.
It was the first game of a back-to-back set for the Canadiens, who headed back to Montreal after the contesy for their home-opener. Tonight’s opponent is the Detroit Red Wings, who are off to a good start themselves.
Tale of the Tape
|4-0-0||H2H Record (18-19)||0-4-0|
|50.2% (17th)||Corsi-for pct.||45.6 (22nd)|
|4.00 (7th)||Goals per game||3.33 (13th)|
|4.33 (25th)||Goals against per game||3.00 (16th)|
|33.3% (6th)||PP%||8.3% (24th)|
|69.2 (22nd)||PK%||85.7% (10th)|
Detroit has taken four points from the three games they’ve played, which is somewhat surprising given pre-season expectations for the club, largely pegged to finish among the bottom two or three in the league. Looking at the roster, it’s hard to see this early pace continuing for long, but those projections can also work as motivation for a group of players who are counted out before they’ve played a single game — as we saw with the 2018-19 Habs.
Things kicked off for Detroit with a high-scoring game versus the Nashville Predators. The Red Wings posted five goals despite being oushot 42-28 to open their season. In the next game they potted four goals, all off the stick on Anthony Mantha, who now has five on the year.
While the overall roster may not compare well with others in the league, the top line with Mantha on the right, Tyler Bertuzzi on the left, and Dylan Larkin in the middle can casue plenty of grief for opposing teams. Larkin led the team with 73 points a season ago, while Mantha and Bertuzzi clocked in just short of 50. All three could handily surpass those marks if they can all stay healthy.
Containing that line will be the top priority for Montreal, but that may be easier said than done. The Sabres passed the puck around the offensive zone with little resistance in last night’s game, including making several passes right across the top of the crease. That porous defence has resulted in 13 goals against in three games, placing the Canadiens in the bottom quarter of the league in goals allowed per game. They’ve already used all eight defencemen on the 23-man roster, and Claude Julien has had difficulty gettin a quality performance from a six-man complement.
Fortunately for the Canadiens, they’ve been able to match their opponent’s offensive output in each game so far. They’ve faced multi-goal deficits in each game — in the third period of the last two games — and managed to ramp up their intensity each time to pull back even. Offence is coming from various sources as all lines are finding success, but scoring four goals each game probably isn’t a realistic expectation for the the team.
Tightening up on defence and preventing the league’s top stars from boosting their point totals will be how this group finds long-term success. We’ll find out tonight how they fare versus a top-heavy Red Wings squad.