Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets game recap: A bad start doomed a decent finish
After a slow start, the Habs pulled themselves together, but couldn't get it done in overtime.
With the Columbus Blue Jackets in town, and Torrey Mitchell and Artturi Lehkonen out (flu and lower-body injury, respectively), the Montreal Canadiens iced seven defencemen (Victor Mete playing wing). Charlie Lindgren once again got the start as the Habs looked to finally edge over the .500 mark with a win.
The Blue Jackets scored first when the Habs were hopeless in front of Lindgren a couple of minutes into the period.
A few shifts later, Mete almost set Jacob de la Rose up with a goal in his second shift as a forward. It was one of the few early offensive zone forays by the Canadiens. Jordie Benn took the first penalty of the game, but the Habs’ penalty kill played surprisingly well, and with a couple of saves from Lindgren, they killed it off. The Habs’ opportunity on the man advantage, however, was terrible.
Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk both got chances in the last minute of the first, as the Habs put in their best stretch of hockey in the game thus far.
After 20, shots were 10-8 for Columbus, who led 1-0.
The second period, unfortunately didn't pick up where the first left off for the Habs, as they looked even more ineffective than they had. Fortunately, Columbus looked pretty tentative as well, The most exciting thing to happen being, of all things, a Tomas Plekanec hip check.
Since it's Tomas Plekanec delivering this hit, is it a hip Czech? pic.twitter.com/od5F1Cxkca— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 15, 2017
Mete and Byron Froese nearly joined up for a wrap around, but Oliver Bjorkstrand broke it up at the last second.
Paul Byron got an electrifying short-handed breakaway, and though Sergei Bobrovsky turned it aside, as well as the ensuing chance, it sure did wake up the crowd, and seemingly the team as well.
What a sequence by Paul Byron while shorthanded pic.twitter.com/6YOS6iWmc0— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 15, 2017
The Canadiens, ostensibly fired up by the strong showing on the penalty kill, got a great shift, Gallagher, Galchenyuk, and Droun sending the puck pin-balling around the blue paint.
A second Habs power play was marginally better, but only marginally, and at the end of two periods, Columbus still led 1-0, and shots were 15-13 for the Canadiens.
The third period got off to a mildly interesting start, as Charles Hudon got a big shot on Bobrovsky. The Habs slowly worked themselves up into some momentum, through the opening five minutes of the frame. De la Rose and Drouin got in on a two-on-one, but waited just a bit too long, and Bobrovsky made a terrific save.
Sergei Bobrovsky is a very good goalie pic.twitter.com/Z4bZiJmZe9— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 15, 2017
However, the Habs continued to get chances, most notably a trio from Pacioretty.
The Blue Jackets got some good offensive zone pressure, but Lindgren stood firm, and Paul Byron got retribution for that second period short-handed breakaway, tying the game up on a Shea Weber rebound. The whole play started off with a nifty play by Galchenyuk.
In his 300th NHL game, Paul Byron scores his fourth goal of the year pic.twitter.com/U3N2V9l29m— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 15, 2017
Both teams got their chances following that, but by and large, the Habs continued to press harder than Columbus. Despite their hard work in the last minutes, the game went to overtime.
Unfortunately, after a strong third period, the Habs were a little sloppy in OT, and the Blue Jackets scored 1:09 in to win 2-1.
- Not that Victor Mete should ever play forward again, but considering that it was a last-minute thing, he looked pretty good. (Though his best moment probably came later in the game as a defenceman.)
- Paul Byron had himself a game, and was possibly the only reason that the Habs woke up after the second period penalty kill. It was a bit of poetic justice that he got the tying goal.
- Alex Galchenyuk, with the exception of that one play that led to a goal, did all the little things right.
- It was a great night for the goalies. While Bobrovsky got the best of the contest in the end, Lindgren did his job to keep the Habs in the game.
- The slow start was obviously a problem that the Habs are going to need to solve, but they did a pretty decent job through the second and third periods. Not that Columbus gave them much of a fight, however./