In their second game against one another in as many nights, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Vancouver Canucks by a score 5-3 at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night. Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli each netted a pair of goals in the victory while Shea Weber picked up an assist in his 1000th regular-season game.
Both teams opted for their other goaltender in net to close out the back-to-back series, yet compared to yesterday’s game the scoring was slow to start. Montreal had an opportunity to get on the board early during a 48-second two-man advantage, but Thatcher Demko was up to the task for the Canucks.
Anderson’s fifth goal of the season and first of the period came with only six minutes remaining in the opening frame. Ben Chiarot’s one-timer from the hashmarks deflected in front of the net and landed perfectly on his stick, giving him an easy tip-in goal. Nick Suzuki picked up his first assist of the night on the play, continuing his hot offensive streak.
Three minutes after Montreal’s first goal, Anderson and Suzuki went at it again to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. Suzuki intercepted Brandon Sutter’s pass near the blue line to keep the Habs onside, and though his shot attempt was blocked, the rebound went straight to Brett Kulak’s stick. Anderson, who was waiting in the slot, successfully deflected the puck past Demko to net his second of the night.
During the final minute of the period, Antoine Roussel came close to getting the Canucks on the board by beating Jake Allen but not the goal post.
The Canadiens took their 2-0 lead into the second period, and less than two minutes into it Anderson nearly completed his hat trick to make it 3-0. He took Demko by surprise with a quick shot, but the Vancouver netminder was able to get his glove out at the last second to deny him.
Another early power-play opportunity for the Canadiens saw Jeff Petry come close to scoring Montreal’s third of the evening, but Demko, who made 28 saves in his team’s loss, stuck out his pad to rob the Canadiens of the power-play goal.
Less than five minutes into the period Vancouver reduced the Canadiens’ lead by half as Roussel made up for the post he had hit at the end of the first. Quinn Hughes’s slapshot from the point was kicked by Jay Beagle onto Allen, who couldn’t control the rebound that ended up going right to Roussel’s stick for his first of the season.
After a bit of uneventful four-on-four action, Toffoli gave the Canadiens their two-goal lead back and netted his eighth of the season by deflecting Joel Edmundson’s wristshot over Demko’s glove and in.
Both Petry and Brendan Gallagher blocked shots in the period that seemed to cause a great deal of pain, but both returned to the game shortly thereafter and seemed no worse for wear.
Before the second period ended, Toffoli extended Montreal’s lead with his second of the period. About 16 minutes in, some fancy stick-handling and smooth hands got the puck around Jordie Benn, allowing him to finish the sequence by firing a precise backhand shot into the upper far corner of the net. Jesperi Kotkaniemi picked up an assist on the play, as did Shea Weber.
With less than a minute to go in the second period, Kulak was given a minor penalty for slashing, which allowed Elias Petterson to net his fourth of the season less than a minute into the final frame.
The 4-2 Canadiens lead would hold on until the final minutes of the game when Demko was on the Vancouver bench in favour of an extra attacker. A scramble in front of Allen’s crease ended with Tanner Pearson finding the loose puck to bring the Canucks back to within one with 42 seconds left to play.
Though Toffoli could have attempted a shot into the empty Vancouver net for his hat trick, he simply passed the puck up ice to Petry with six seconds remaining to guarantee the restoration of Montreal’s two-goal lead and secure his team’s victory.
The Canadiens will attempt to keep their hot streak alive against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night then again on Saturday afternoon before having a three-day break.