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Canadiens vs. Canucks recap: Defeat from the jaws of victory

Two leads were not enough as Montreal falls in overtime.

Vancouver Canucks v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

When people want the story of the 2019-20 Montreal Canadiens, have this game ready to dust off.

Leads of 2-0 early, and 3-2 in the third period were not enough as the Canadiens fell 4-3 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks just over 24 hours after the NHL Trade Deadline.

Vancouver never led until Tyler Toffoli’s overtime winner, and the extra period was a comedy of errors in its own right. From Canadiens players literally skating into each other, to attempted zone exits thwarted, it was a microcosm of the season: Well intentioned, moments of hope, but simply not good enough.

The Canadiens got the scoring started early when a pair of Habs showed off their speed. Max Domi took the puck down the right wing and fed a perfect backhand pass to Paul Byron, who scored for the second straight game.

Byron was the one who started the play by creating the turnover and getting Domi to start his rush. It was his third goal of the season.

Montreal wouldn’t let up from there. Just 1:24 after Byron’s goal, Phillip Danault skated the puck into the Canucks zone and fed Tomas Tatar. Tatar maneuvered himself into space and passed the puck back to the point where Shea Weber settled the puck down and blasted a shot past Thatcher Demko, who started the game for Vancouver.

After Weber’s 15th goal of the season, Canucks head coach Travis Green called timeout, and it seemed to get his team back on track.

Vancouver took advantage of a dubious Weber penalty to score on the ensuing power play. After a faceoff win, they used great puck movement to set up Bo Horvat who blasted a one timer over Price’s shoulder from the high slot. Horvat’s 20th goal of the season cut the deficit to 2-1 with less than five minutes remaining in the period.

The second period saw the Canadiens outshoot the Canucks 12-4 but instead of adding an insurance marker, it was Vancouver who tied the game up, again with under five minutes remaining in the period.

After a turnover in the defensive zone, Vancouver cycled the puck to Alexander Edler who fired a wrist shot past Carey Price to tie the game. The shot itself wasn’t hard, but it went through five bodies plus Price before hitting the back of the net, seeing its way through traffic.

In the third period, Montreal got off to another strong start. Just 50 seconds into the period, Jordan Weal skated the puck into the zone, and after losing the puck, he went to the slot where he was able to put a bouncing puck past Demko to give the Canadiens an early third-period lead. It was Weal’s seventh goal of the year.

Five minutes later, the Canucks would take advantage of another power play opportunity. Jake Virtanen took a shot from the right circle and the puck hit Price in the shoulder, bounced up and over the Canadiens goaltender into the net to tie the game once more. It was Virtanen’s 18th goal of the season.

In overtime, the trio of Domi, Byron, and Jeff Petry — who have had success in overtime this season — couldn’t get anything going. Domi lost the opening faceoff, and the Canucks controlled possession for the 1:35 that was played. The Canadiens had opportunities to clear the zone, and Price had a chance to hold on for a faceoff at one point as well, but the trio was unable to change.

The Canucks ended up getting five shots in overtime and Toffoli’s 21st goal ended the game and sent Vancouver off with the extra point.

The Canadiens outshot Vancouver 40-34 in the game. Their power play was 0/1, while their penalty kill was 0/2. It proved to be the difference, and cost the team a point they can’t be giving away if they actually want to believe they have a chance to make the playoffs.