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Canadiens @ Canucks game recap: Carey Price steals the show, but Vancouver steals the points

The Habs netminder was outstanding, but the offence went missing in a shootout loss.

Montreal Canadiens v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

With Montreal fresh off a lopsided victory over the Winnipeg Jets, and the Vancouver Canucks coming off a two-game sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Monday night’s game didn’t come with a guaranteed win as it might have a month ago.

Montreal rolled into Vancouver with a healthy lineup, welcoming back Josh Anderson on Saturday and putting him on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The moves paid off as the Canadiens plastered seven even-strength goals on Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit, and looked poised to do the same against a Canucks team they had owned earlier this season.

The Montreal lineup remained the exact same as it had on Saturday, with Carey Price once again taking the net. The Canucks were without Elias Pettersson, and were turning to Thatcher Demko in net.

A fast-paced start saw both sides trade chances, but a sloppy line change led to Vancouver playing with one too many skaters, putting Montreal on the game’s first power play. Alex Burrows’s magic work continued once again, as Montreal’s suddenly red-hot power play converted with ease. Kotkaniemi won the puck behind Demko’s net and cycled it through Tomas Tatar to Jeff Petry at the point. The Canadiens’ leading scorer fired off a wrist shot as Corey Perry set up a screen in front of Demko so the Canucks’ goalie never even saw the puck fly by his blocker.

Despite surrendering the first goal, the Canucks pushed right back against the Canadiens’ defence. Nils Hoglander had the best look, driving hard toward the net, but a deft pokecheck from Shea Weber cancelled out his attack as Price smothered the loose puck. Then the Habs’ counterattack went to work, with Tatar’s shot hitting Brandon Sutter and leaving him worse for wear as he struggled off the ice.

With the period winding down, the Canadiens fell back into some poor habits, with Corey Perry being called for a trip on Alex Edler. Then on the power play, a Paul Byron rush ended with him trying to avoid Demko, but also taking a seat next to Perry in the penalty box when that evasive manoeuvre wasn’t evasive enough. However, the Canadiens’ penalty kill showed signs of its early-season form, aggressively keeping the Canucks’ advantage to the outside and limiting their chances to a few shots from bad angles. With the two-man advantage killed off, Montreal headed into the intermission with a one-goal lead and a lot of momentum.

Montreal came out flying once again, and nearly doubled the lead thanks to some crafty work by Perry. The veteran winger pulled the puck through a Canucks defender and laid it off for Toffoli through the crease. Toffoli’s initial shot was saved, but the puck flipped into the air behind Demko. The Canucks goalie was saved by an inch or so, as it hit the outside of the post and was cleared away by a defender.

It took the Canucks nearly nine minutes to finally register a shot on Price in the period, and it came off the stick of J.T. Miller. He worked around the net, then threw a wraparound shot that banked off another skate then the outside of the post, and away into the corner harmlessly.

Even with Vancouver starting to generate more offence on their own, their lack of finish proved to be an issue as the Canadiens put their speed game back in gear. It helped them draw another penalty, and again it was Perry using his smarts in the crease to nearly set up another goal, but Vancouver was able to kill off the minor penalty.

Once again, despite the Canadiens’ lopsided control of the period, they couldn’t find another goal and still held the one-goal lead heading into the third period in Vancouver.

The Canucks nearly struck early in the third when a shot from Travis Hamonic was deflected on net, but a quick reaction from Price kept it out of the net. The goaltender was called on again to make a save on another long-range shot, but it hit the top of his glove, rebounding dangerously, but his defence helped to clean that up immediately and clear the puck out of the zone.

It looked like the Canucks had possibly tied the game thanks to a Jayce Hawryluk’s shot. The Canucks forward had his shot hit off Price’s glove, then off the inside of the goalpost and away from the Habs’ net. The danger wasn’t done yet though as a tripping call sent Nick Suzuki to the box for two minutes. It was a vintage Price showing on the penalty kill as he calmly got across his crease to deny Brock Boeser a goal with his blocker and keep the Montreal lead intact.

After the Canucks finally got Demko to the bench they nearly tied the game with a huge assist to an official’s head. Then, after a dubious icing call, Adam Gaudette took a small bit of open space and wired a shot off the far post and in to tie the game with under a minute left to play.

The Canadiens old nemesis, overtime, actually started heavily in their favour, as they controlled the puck, keeping Quinn Hughes on the ice for a long period. However once the Canucks got the puck it was up to Price to keep Montreal in it, and he did so in a massive way with a flailing, goal line glove save on Boeser.

The game shifted to a shootout, where Price stoned the first two shooters with ease, while both Nick Suzuki and Jonathan Drouin couldn’t keep a handle on their own attempts. Bo Horvat finally solved Price, going high while the Habs goalie guessed low, and Tomas Tatar’s between-the-legs attempt was denied by Demko allowing Vancouver to gain the second point on the night with the 2-1 win.

These two teams meet again on Wednesday night at the ungodly hour of 11:00 PM EST, with Montreal looking to make a statement after being denied what should have been a win.