Canadiens vs. Capitals game recap: The big name forwards came as advertised
It’s only pre-season but there is a lot to be excited about
The Montreal Canadiens outplayed, outshot and out-chanced the Washington Capitals but still came away with a 4-2 loss.
After Artturi Lehkonen took a penalty after getting caught up with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov broke into the zone on an innocent-looking play, danced around Mark Streit and beat Carey Price to make the score 1-0.
Evgeni Kuznetsov walks through the Habs penalty kill and opens the scoring for the Capitals pic.twitter.com/YLaoEZMvuX— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) September 20, 2017
Five minutes later, Nikita Scherbak took a hooking penalty which allowed the Capitals to once again score with the man advantage. Jakub Vrana centred a puck for Kuznetsov but Brandon Davidson tipped it behind Price when he was trying to block the pass. It hit the inside crossbar and went out as fast as it went in.
Brandon Davidson tips this puck right over Carey Price and the Habs are down 2-0 pic.twitter.com/7mkqrAoqtW— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) September 20, 2017
The Canadiens would get on the board in the second period when the Capitals would start their parade to the penalty box.
Washington would take three straight penalties to end the first period and one more to start the second, giving the Habs a brief five-on-three but they would not be able to convert.
However, as the final penalty of the first period was ending, Victor Mete - playing his first professional game - would find Charles Hudon in the slot who beat Philipp Grubauer cleanly.
Victor Mete with a perfect pass and Charles Hudon cuts the Caps lead in half pic.twitter.com/et2LF8aETy— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) September 21, 2017
Later in the period, on another power play (are you sensing a theme?), the Canadiens top line got into the action. Jonathan Drouin passed it down low to Ales Hemsky, who in turn made a perfect saucer pass to Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty would make no mistake and the game was suddenly tied.
Drouin freezes everyone, and Hemsky sets up Pacioretty for an easy goal pic.twitter.com/sXOgS5MtRc— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) September 21, 2017
Montreal would end up 2/7 on the power play while Washington was 2/4. Montreal outshot Washington 43-22, and 27-14 at even strength.
In the third period, the teams would trade chances but Devante Smith-Pelly would break the tie with under six minutes remaining when a bouncing puck would fall behind Charlie Lindgren and past the goal line.
The Canadiens would push for the equalizer, and had a late power play with under four minutes remaining, but could not beat Pheonix Copley who came in relief for Grubauer.
Eventually Kuznetsov would find Tom Wilson who would put the empty net goal away and effectively end the game with just over a minute remaining.
The Canadiens will be right back at it on Thursday at the Bell Centre against the New Jersey Devils at 7:00 p.m.
- Carey Price allowed two goals early on, but eventually got his game together and ended up making eight saves on 10 shots. It was a good game for Price, who is getting his feet wet in the 2017-18 season.
- The penalty kill allowing two goals may get some people concerned but the forwards on the ice during the goals were Byron Froese, Andreas Martinsen, Peter Holland and Markus Eisenschmid. The odds of any of those players in the opening night lineup is slim, and it’s not like the team gave up a ton of scoring chances, either.
- I try not to judge veterans in the pre-season, but I don’t see any way Mark Streit starts the season as one of the team’s top six defencemen. There is still plenty of time to prove me wrong, but Streit didn’t look like a guy fighting for his spot on the team. He was slow, out of position, and even on the power play didn’t look all that dangerous despite being on the top unit.
- Having said that, Victor Mete and Jakub Jerabek, both playing their first NHL pre-season games, looked really good. Both players ended the night atop the Canadiens shot attempts charts at 15 shot attempts for and only six against while on the ice at even strength./
Mete is on the outside looking in to make the roster, but he looked at ease during the game, as well as getting an assist. I didn’t think Mikhail Sergachev had a chance of making the team last year and he did. Mete showed me more Wednesday than Sergachev did in his pre-season so to me he has a fighting chance.
I know there is a year difference between the two, but I am just comparing their camps, not their projections as prospects.
As for Jerabek, I thought his first period was very tentative, which makes sense in his first actual game on an NHL rink. As the game went on, he started to implicate himself more and I think he will be a real asset on the power play. I would take both players over Streit without hesitation, but again, it’s still very early.
- Nikita Scherbak had a tough start to the game. He took a penalty and didn’t look all that comfortable offensively but a lot of that could be due to playing with Froese and Martinsen, not exactly the most skilled players. Scherbak also took a penalty early on, and sat in the penalty box for the too-many-players penalty (although he was not at fault for that one). Later in the game, I started to notice more positive things but he’s a guy I expected more from.
- On the other hand, Daniel Carr was really good. Despite playing with Holland and Eisenschmid, Carr proved that he should get a longer look with NHL talent. He was tenacious on the forecheck and I really liked what I saw.
- When it comes to Charles Hudon and Jonathan Drouin, the expectations are pretty high at this point, but both met those lofty expectations. Both players implicated themselves offensively, and Drouin looked really engaged without the puck as well. It was a very encouraging start for the two most-watched Habs forwards./
Both will be significant assets to the Habs power play this season.