clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Canadiens @ Blues game recap: Team effort gives Habs another win

All four lines contribute a goal as Montreal takes down St. Louis.

Montreal Canadiens v St Louis Blues Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens’ four-game homestand ended with a memorable shutout win against the Minnesota Wild, which saw both Nick Suzuki and Victor Mete get their first ever NHL goals. The team then headed out on the road for a pair of afternoon games this weekend.

The team got some unfortunate news before playing a minute of action on their trip. During the warmup ahead of their match with the St. Louis Blues, Montreal’s leading scorer this season, Joel Armia, had to throw in the towel with a lower-body injury. In his place stepped Jordan Weal, who was going to be a scratch from the game.

The St. Louis Blues chose to rest starting netminder Jordan Binnington, which meant that Jake Allen would be standing between Montreal and back-to-back victories.

Montreal went on the power play first, when Justin Faulk tripped up Jesperi Kotkaniemi after four minutes with Kotkaniemi in the zone on a one-on-four. The power play has been better on the stat sheet than it has looked on the ice so far this season, but after last year it is a blessing just to see the Habs being able to score with a man up. Meanwhile, the Blues came into the game having only conceded one goal in 17 times short-handed. Weal made sure to double that number around the six-minute mark, when he finished off a setup from Max Domi and Tomas Tatar from the crease.

The joy was short-lived however. A minute later, Alex Pietrangelo used the quick boards in the Enterprise Center to make the puck bounce behind the net and back out to the right, where Jaden Schwartz scored with a backhand to even the score.

The home team had its best part of the game right after the tying goal, displaying good consistency offensively and making the Montreal defence work to keep away quality scoring chances. Vince Dunn made his first, but not last, try at beating Carey Price, but without any luck.

The Blues’ pressure resulted in Tatar taking a penalty for roughing Sammy Blais with 7.16 left in the first. Blais was also the Blues player closest to sending a puck past Price when he turned up uncovered from the left for a rebound, but the Habs goalie read the intentions and denied a goal with his pads.

Artturi Lehkonen was the next Montreal Canadiens player to visit the penalty booth for tripping a Blues player after an offensive-zone faceoff with two-and-a-half minutes left. This time, Montreal was better collected on the penalty kill and the Blues were unable to create anything substantial. Instead, Suzuki nearly came away with a short-handed goal when nonchalant play by the defence saw him break up a pass right in the crease. With the newfound confidence you get after scoring your first NHL goal, Suzuki forced Allen down to the ice with his patience, but was unable to lift the puck high enough to get the score.

The goaltender may have stopped Montreal on that occasion, but that was all forgotten among the Blues fans six seconds into the second period. Ryan O’Reilly won the faceoff against Phillip Danault, but Brendan Gallagher went straight for the puck and used his wrister to push it down the ice toward the opposing goal. What happened next is hard to explain, but Allen must have been overconfident in his puck-handling skills and managed to steer the puck into his own net, unpressured. Gallagher got credited with the goal, his fourth of the season.

Montreal switched into a higher gear after taking the lead. Suzuki drew a tripping penalty on Blues captain Pietrangelo, and Montreal once again went on the power play. This time, Kotkaniemi and Jonathan Drouin were able to create a fluency that all too often is missing from the man advantage. Shea Weber ended a great sequence by setting up Kotkaniemi out right. The Finnish centre took a few steps and fired a cross-seam pass over the ice right on Drouin’s blade, and the winger made no mistake. With his eigth point of the year, Drouin once again joined Gallagher and Domi as Montreal’s leading scorers so far this season.

St. Louis tried to bounce back and forced Carey Price to show his worth mid-period. Robert Thomas and Dunn took turns making Price display why he is the highest-paid netminder in hockey. Dunn was seen shaking his head after Price had denied his third quality scoring chance of the day, this time with a proper showtime stop, getting his glove out lightning quick to make the save and finishing with a windmill flourish.

Just as it felt as though the Blues were closing in, Nick Cousins examplified why the Habs were keen on adding him to their lineup this summer. First, he made use of his physicality with a heavy bodycheck on Robby Fabbri. A few sequences later, he followed up by regaining possession in the neutral zone to serve Nate Thompson. Thompson skated in behind the net and waited for a teammate to move into the slot for an easy finish. That teammate happened to be Suzuki. Compared to his goal against Minnesota, this one was followed by a far more reserved celebration, both from the rookie and from his teammates.

The home team, suddenly three goals down, began to get frustrated, and David Perron went to the box for tripping Suzuki at 12.25. This Montreal power play was not as successful as the earlier two, but we did get to see Jeff Petry fire twice to make Allen work to keep the deficit stable.

Mete got called on a somewhat questionable penalty for holding Alexander Steen with a couple of minutes left before the break, but the Canadiens, though having trouble clearing the puck out of their own area, managed to keep their opponents at bay.

The last period was about retaining control of the game. St. Louis tried, somewhat half-heartedly, to get back into it without having the energy to create any high-octane goal opportunities. Montreal, meanwhile, focused on forechecking, getting the occasional breakaway and trying their luck on two more power plays, with no result.

With five minutes left, St. Louis sent Allen to the bench in a desperate move to get closer. It took more than four minutes of six-on-five play, but Perron did manage to squeeze one past Price to reduce the deficit to two. However, it was too late to make a real push. Instead, captain Weber scored his first goal of the season with an empty-netter from the defensive zone only seconds later to make the final score 5-2.

Montreal won yet another game against the reigning champions and scored twice on the league’s best penalty kill. Surely that will provide Habs fans with a good feeling until tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 PM ET, when Montreal, for the second time this week, faces off against the Minnesota Wild.