With a strong showing against the Rangers, and a flop against Pittsburgh, the Montreal Canadiens hoped to find some consistency on what has traditionally been a problematic California road trip. Moreover, with Carey Price within one win of Jacques Plante and first place, and the faltering Los Angeles Kings at the other end of the ice, they wanted to get off to a good start.
Jordan Weal got the first good look of the game against one of his former teams, but it was Brendan Gallagher who tipped in a great shot from Victor Mete for his 30th of the season less than four minutes in.
The Kings got some chances after the goal, but the Canadiens held them at bay before getting some chances of their own, most notably from Shea Weber. Mete made an excellent play against Kyle Clifford in the defensive zone, and was particularly noticeable generating plays in the offensive zone as well.
Montreal more or less controlled the game from the halfway point on, forcing turnovers, skating quickly, and getting some really good shifts from Weal especially. Price didn't have much to do, but he was excellent when called upon.
The Habs started the second well, bobbled momentarily about four minutes in, but escaped unscathed thanks to a combination of Price saves, good luck, and bad passing from LA.
Price once again came up huge when Jeff Carter beat Weber in a foot race, and though the Kings outshot Montreal in the first half, Weal scored his first goal for Montreal on their first shot of the second (with some help from Dion Phaneuf).
With 4:05 left in the second, Montreal drew the first power play of the game. In typical Montreal fashion, the power play nearly led to disaster before Andrew Shaw got the best look of the man advantage. In the dying minutes of the period, Price came up huge, throwing himself onto a puck moving perilously towards the red line in the final two minutes.
The Habs fended off the final push from LA, and headed into the second intermission up 2-0, shots 18-13 in their favour.
Montreal started the third with a bang, getting a goal from the captain just 41 seconds in on yet another terrific play from Mete and great feed from Phillip Danault.
Jeff Petry rang iron seconds after that, and then took a penalty on Brendan Leipsic. Price once again came up huge during the penalty kill, making everything look both impressive and easy at the same time.
Max Domi danced into the offensive zone just past the five-minute mark, and if he'd scored, it surely would have been a highlight-reel-worthy contribution. He was unable to beat Jonathan Quick though.
Unfortunately, the Kings got on the board, Matt Luff scoring through traffic at 11:03, ruining Price’s bid for the shutout. Brett Kulak took a penalty as the game hit the final five minutes, but Montreal killed it off handily.
With just under two to go, Weal narrowly missed an open net, and moments later, L.A. pulled Quick. Price kept calm under fire six-on-five, and tied Jacques Plante for first all-time in wins by Montreal goalies with 314.