How to watch
Needing a win to snap a three-game losing streak, Martin St-Louis turned to Jake Allen on Tuesday night. Allen had put in a spectacular performance in a losing effort versus the Detroit Red Wings in game two of the season, and the coach was hoping for something similar.
A spectacle is precisely what Allen provided, dealing with another strong start from the Red Wings in their own building. He didn’t have a perfect period like the first meeting when he turned aside 25 shots, but did handle 15 of the 16 sent his way, and 41 of the 43 on the night.
The difference that helped Montreal eventually claim the two points were two first-period goals from Mike Hoffman, scored in exactly the same fashion; into an open net off a Brendan Gallagher rebound. It was a difficult night the rest of the way with the penalty calls largely in Detroit’s favour, and the Red Wings playing well throughout, but the Habs held together through regulation, dealt with one last penalty to end the overtime period, then unleashed Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki in the shootout to nab the second point.
With that win in the bank versus a good Red Wings team, the Canadiens have traveled back home to take on the suddenly hot Vancouver Canucks.
Tale of the Tape
|44.2% (26th)||Scoring-chances-for %||46.6% (24th)|
|2.77 (27th)||Goals per game||3.62 (5th)|
|3.23(18th)||Goals against per game||4.00 (30th)|
|14.7% (28th)||PP%||28.3% (5th)|
|80.9% (11th)||PK%||60.5% (32nd)|
|0-2-0||H2H Record (21-22)||2-0-0|
The Canucks could do nothing right to start the season. They didn’t have a single win through the first seven games, and just a few months from the first renditions of “Bruce! There It Is” rang around Rogers Arena, many people were wondering if head coach Boudreau’s tenure was going to come to an abrupt end.
On October 27, they finally got their first victory. With a 6-4 win last night in Ottawa, they now have four on the season and have taken nine of the last 12 points available to them. In all four of the wins, they’ve scored at least five goals. They have no victories when they don’t hit that total.
The offence has truly come to life. In the six games comprising this hot streak, the Canucks have seven players averaging a point per game or better. Following a terrible start when he was on the ice for every goal against, J.T. Miller has eight points during this run, and Elias Pettersson and captain Bo Horvat lead the way with 10 points apiece.
Andrei Kuzmenko is the most interesting name on this list. The 26-year-old is playing his first season in the NHL and has six goals in the past six games, including a hat trick. He’s been playing with Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev on Vancouver’s second line, giving the team another source of offence.
One of the questions going into tonight’s game is how much energy Montreal’s defence will have to hold off the attack. They worked hard versus the Red Wings and spent 11 minutes killing penalties. Joel Edmundson, Kaiden Guhle, Johnny Kovacevic, and David Savard (despite spending the opening half of the third period serving a misconduct penalty) played over 20 minutes and may all be called upon to do so again. They might begin to feel the effects of the workload when tonight’s game enters its final stages.
The Canadiens don’t lose much in goal by starting Samuel Montembeault to finish off the back-to-back, and you could argue that he’s been even better than Allen this season. Montembeault brings a .928 save percentage into this game, and his exceptional lateral movement will help turn aside the creative passing plays from the Canucks and cover for mistakes born from fatigue from the defencemen in front of him.
As good as the end results are for Vancouver, defending is still a major issue for the club. They’ve given up at least four goals five times in this current run. The Habs will have plenty of chances to score, so they’ll have to have faith in their own ability if the Canucks do keep their offence red-hot tonight.