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Canadiens @ Ducks game recap: The nightmare season drags on

A few bright spots weren’t enough for the Habs to avoid another limp effort in Anaheim.

Montreal Canadiens v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After a massively disappointing loss yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles, the Montreal Canadiens were back on the ice in Anaheim against the Ducks. While it was already known that Samuel Montembeault was going to start against Anaheim, the Canadiens lineup featured a few more changes than that.

Chris Wideman was back in the starting rotation as Sami Niku was scratched, while Brendan Gallagher missed the game with a minor injury. Mathieu Perreault was also conspicuous by his absence, after dealing with a retina injury that was going to keep him out two to three weeks. That meant Adam Brooks drew back in to the starting formation, while Jake Evans was re-inserted despite not being 100% set to go.

For a team that was run over on the penalty kill on Saturday night, the Canadiens did little to help themselves out of the gate on Sunday. Just under two minutes in, Brett Kulak was called for a hold, and the Ducks went to the game’s first power play. Montreal almost made it to the end of the two-minute minor unscathed, but Sonny Milano found a gap in the Habs defence and Adam Henrique buried his chance to put the Ducks on top early.

Luckily for Montreal, they drew a penalty of their own to give themselves a golden opportunity to climb back into the game, and it took all of five seconds to find a tying goal. Jonathan Drouin won the puck back to Chris Wideman, and the veteran defenceman put a pass on a tee for Mike Hoffman. The Canadiens’ sniper made no mistake as his shot went blistering past John Gibson to tie the game early in the first period.

Montreal then put the game on a platter for Anaheim as Cédric Paquette blasted Trevor Zegras from behind into the boards, earning himself a match penalty and the early shower that came with it. Montreal did well at first to manage the Ducks’ power play, but halfway through the major the Ducks found a wide-open Vinni Lettieri, who buried the feed to restore the Anaheim lead.

To make matters worse, with just over two minutes left to kill off, the officials called Artturi Lehkonen for a hold against Ryan Getzlaf, giving the Ducks a five-on-three opportunity. Against all odds, Montreal was able to kill off both penalties and escape the early penalty issues down just a single goal. That was how the first wrapped up, though with the Ducks firmly controlling the shot counter.

Period two started better for the Habs, as Joel Armia found some space for a partial breakaway and got a chance on Gibson but was denied by the Ducks goalie. Then the duo of Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson created an odd-man rush out of nothing, while also drawing a slashing call in the process. The Montreal power play wasn’t long for this world however, as Drouin was the offending party on a dubious hooking call, sending the game to four-on-four.

While neither team found a goal with the bigger ice, the Canadiens soon gave Anaheim yet another power play chance as Brett Kulak was called for a hooking penalty. Jake Evans put in another strong penalty-killing shift, and Montreal got the job done.

Shortly afterward it was Troy Terry heading to the box, giving Montreal another crack on the power play, which didn’t yield much of anything.

That pattern applied to the game at large as both sides failed to mount any meaningful offence in the second period. The Habs, however, started to find their legs late in the frame, with the combination of Anderson and Drouin leading the way. The two wingers flew in and out of the Anaheim defence, pushing them back and giving Anderson a great chance for Montreal.

The Habs were able to get a break in their favour before the period ended, with Jeff Petry’s first point of the season leading to the tying goal. Petry walked to an open lane and let his shot fly in on Gibson, and the rebound pinged around right to Jake Evans to chip home and tie the game once more.

Montreal jumped out to a strong start in the third period, with the fourth line then the second line hemming the Ducks in deep, but they weren’t able to come up with a tie-breaking goal. That pressure didn’t let up, with Joel Armia taking a solo rush through the Ducks’ defence and testing Gibson shortly after, but the Anaheim netminder refused to yield another goal.

A Kevin Shattenkirk penalty sent the Habs to another power play, with a huge opportunity to claim the lead. An incredible set play was denied by an outstanding series of saves by Gibson’s pads and the Ducks were able to fend off the remainder of the power play as the period passed it’s halfway point.

Immediately after that kill, Ryan Getzlaf chipped a Cam Fowler pass into the offensive zone for Terry. The Ducks forward broke in alone and made no mistake, burying his chance by Montembeault and giving the Ducks the lead once again.

Even with the Habs trailing by a goal, their offensive push amounted to little as the minutes ticked off the clock. Even with the net empty and an extra attacker on the ice, the Canadiens failed to find the push they needed, and the Ducks deposited an empty-net goal to seal their victory.

Final Score: Anaheim 4, Montreal 2

The Canadiens now return home with even more questions about themselves, and a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings looming on Tuesday at the Bell Centre.