There were a lot of storylines heading into the Montreal Canadiens’ game versus the Arizona Coyotes. Max Domi, Nick Cousins , and Jordan Weal were facing their former team (although Weal was looking on from the press box), while Brendan Gallagher was contesting his 500th NHL game.
You couldn't have scripted it any better. Just 22 seconds in, Gallagher scored his sixth of the season. It was a true Gallagher goal, inches from the blue paint, and an odd one.
Remember when people said Gallagher wasn't a real first-liner? Good times.
Arizona controlled the next couple of shifts, but the Canadiens took the pressure back, and nearly got another one that trickled mere inches wide of the iron. They earned a power play for their efforts.
The Habs’ revitalized power play got to work, but wasn't particularly successful. However, unlike in times past, it did not kill their momentum, and they continued to pressure following the man advantage.
Tomas Tatar was called on a bad slashing call at 10:11 — presumably a makeup for a hard hit from Joel Armia that the Coyotes felt should have been a boarding call. Nate Thompson made a really nice stick move to block off a slot-pass, and that proved enough for the Habs to kill it off.
Carey Price was also up for whatever Arizona threw at him, especially as the back-half of the first went by. Domi, Drouin, and Armia all had good looks in the final couple of minutes, but after 20, the score remained 1-0.
Just 24 seconds into the second period, Antti Raanta lost his skate blade, and Shea Weber blasted the puck into the empty net after Victor Mete and Phillip Danault worked it over to the captain’s side.
Mikey Reilly took a penalty a couple minutes in for holding after a Drouin giveaway, but Arizona was never really able to get properly set up.
Just past the five-minute mark, Michael Grabner got in all alone following a turnover by Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but was delayed long enough by Cale Fleury getting in his way. Price made a frantic series of saves as the Coyotes pressed.
Price got bowled into (accidentally) by Derek Stepan at 13:14, and looked a bit shaken up after taking a foot to his head. Weber was sent to the box for taking Stepan down in the first place. Arizona struggled once again, and Price looked alert when he needed to be. After forty, the Habs found themselves up 2-0, shots tied at 23.
The pattern of early goals continued as Nick Cousins capitalized against his former team a whole 1:13 into the third, picking up the puck from Suzuki.
Arizona went hard with all five guys on the ice looking for some life, and some drifting defensive backchecking from the Habs gave Jakob Chychrun his second of the season at 4:47.
Montreal responded with a couple of hard shifts from Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen, and Gallagher, but overall the Coyotes looked like they were going to take control of the game. Their shift toward offence led to another sloppy goal, this time from Drouin, to put the Habs up 4-1 at 11:03. Drouin’s goal tied him with Armia and Gallagher for the team lead.
The Habs finished out the game to the sound of triumphant olés, a 4-1 win under their belt. It was not their tidiest game, but at the end of the day, they got the job done.
- Especially as the game went on, it looked like Domi was trying so hard to make an impact against his former team that he was often trying to do too much.
- I hadn't been able to catch a game since the beginning of the year before it became clear that their power play was on the mend. I have to say, it was nice to see some variation on the Shea Weber theme.
- The ice looked really bad.
- With the exception of the Cousins goal, those were some nonsensical goals.
- Oh dear those turnovers...So many turnovers. Far too many turnovers.
- In honor of Gally’s 500th game, the Habs all decided to score like him. That’s clearly the only explanation of all that nonsense.