Canadiens vs Coyotes Game Recap: A dominant win in Carey Price’s return

Montreal’s MVP stops 27 of 29 in first start since November 25th, 2015

For the first time in almost a calendar year — 331 days, to be exact — Carey Price started in goal for the Montreal Canadiens.

After a knee injury limited the franchise goaltender to just 12 starts last season, and a virus derailed his start to this campaign, Price put Habs fans at ease by making his return to the Bell Centre crease.

He was called into action early, as he was forced to make a big save on Radim Vrbata, who broke in on a two on one just under eight minutes into the game. Later in the period, Alexei Emelin wired one past Louis Domingue off a nice setup from Paul Byron. With Andrew Shaw providing a screen in front, the physical defenceman wound up and scored his first goal in 86 games.

The Habs did a good job neutralizing the youth and speed of the Coyotes, and gave Price a comfortable first period back in the Canadiens’ crease.

Nathan Beaulieu got the ball rolling in the second for Montreal. During some four on four hockey, the defenceman made a great play to set up Torrey Mitchell for the Habs second goal. Beaulieu fended off Martin Hanzal, who pushed him over and into the Coyotes zone. Beaulieu didn’t quit on the play, as he got up and sent a perfect pass across the ice to Mitchell, who wired home his second of the season.

Things started to heat up shortly after, as former Canadien Ryan White decided to muck things up with a couple of Habs in front of the net. White and Emelin were both sent off for roughing. With White getting the extra penalty, the Habs were gifted their third power play of the game.

On the man advantage, Andrei Markov teed up Weber, who blasted his first goal as a member of the Habs. It was a textbook one timer by Weber, who set up at the top of the left circle and ripped a low slap shot through a screened Domingue, who really had no chance on the goal.

Less than two minutes later, Alex Galchenyuk made a great move to get around Shane Doan in the neutral zone, before using Luke Schenn as a screen and scoring his first of the season, giving the Habs a 4-0 lead. The goal spelled the end for Domingue, who allowed four goals on 19 shots, and made way for Justin Peters.

The four goal cushion didn’t last long, however, as Jakob Chychrun was able to find the open net after Price was left helpless following a goal-mouth scramble.

With just under four minutes to play in the second, the Arizona made things interesting. During a Canadiens power play, Beaulieu turned the puck over after he took what appeared to be a knee on knee hit from Laurent Dauphin. Brad Richardson came up with the puck, Price made the save on him, but was helpless as Dauphin buried the rebound for Arizona’s second shorthanded goal of the season.

The Coyotes youth shone through in the second, as Arizona drew to within two, despite getting outshot 32-19 after 40 minutes.

Montreal didn’t let up in the third period, as they continued to pepper the Coyotes’ goal. Artturi Lehkonen and Tomas Plekanec both forced Peters to make a couple of nice saves. Not long after, Mikhail Sergachev made a nice play to win the puck in the neutral zone, before sending it across the crease. Phillip Danault then crashed into Peters after Connor Murphy pushed him into his own goaltender.

The Habs would pad their lead shortly after, as Plekanec and Lehkonen found each other once again. Plekanec sent a nice backhand pass from down low into the slot. Lehkonen made no mistake, as his wrist shot hit the bottom of Peters’ outstretched leg and found the back of the net for the Finn’s second career NHL goal, and first at the Bell Centre.

Price took the reins from there, as he made a nice sprawling save on Doan towards the end of the third period to preserve the 5-2 win for the Canadiens. Price finished with 27 saves on 29 shots in the win, and looked every bit like the Carey Price of two seasons ago and early last season.

Thoughts

  • Every line combination contributed to this win, with the fourth line of Danault, Mitchell and Flynn looking especially dangerous. It’s refreshing to see the Habs have such a balanced offence.
  • Shea Weber’s shot could fell a buffalo.
  • Mikhail Sergachev looking poised and comfortable with the puck. Despite a couple of mistakes, most notably a turnover that lead to Arizona’s first goal, he looked calm and made some nice plays with the puck. While it’s almost a foregone conclusion that he’ll be sent back to Windsor before his 9 games are up, with Zach Redmond out six weeks with a broken foot, he’ll make things interesting if he continues to make strides.
  • Montreal did a great job controlling the scoring chances, which is a stark contract to what we saw in their first three games. An encouraging sign.
  • Carey Price. That is all./

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