Winners of six straight, the Habs rolled into Calgary looking to continue an upward trajectory under their new head coach. And they looked to do it without Carey Price. Like the Habs, the Flames are a team on the upswing, winners of seven straight themselves, neither team wanted to see their winning streak come to an end. Calgary had an additional motivator — their 5-1 loss to Montreal at the Bell Centre.
Each team had lightning quick forays into the others’ zone in the early going, with the Flames getting the more dangerous chances, outshooting the Canadiens 6-2. Matthiew Tkachuk burned Jeff Petry after an ill-advised pinch from Alexei Emelin, and Tkachuk’s beautiful pass to a wide open Mark Giordano at 7:38 to put them up 1-0.
Emelin and Petry continued to have rough nights, Emelin especially, whose misplay behind the net resulted in a mad scramble, and a near goal.
The first period was all Calgary, though the Habs did turn in a nice penalty kill on a Shea Weber tripping call. They got a crack on a power play of their own with 1:26 to go, but at the end of 20, shots were an appalling 16-5 for the Flames, who led 1-0.
Calgary picked up more or less where they left off, as the Habs failed to get off so much as a shot on the power play. T.J. Brodie nearly deked the pants off Montoya after dusting both Petry and Emelin, but was unable to put the puck into the wide open net. Michael McCarron and the fourth line remained on of the few bright spots for the Canadiens through, as were Paul Byron and Andrew Shaw on the third.
In a surprising turn of events, Byron and Kris Versteeg dropped the gloves shortly past the five-minute mark, and the Habs seemed to find a little bit more of a jump in the aftermath.
It was not enough, however, as the Flames continued to overwhelm a decidedly off-kilter Montreal blue line, and Michael Stone made it 2-0.
The Canadiens countered, as the fourth line got some offensive zone pressure, and Steve Ott dropped the gloves with Matt Bartkowski half way through the period.
Things did not improve from there.
Sean Monahan scored off an unfortunate deflection off of Beaulieu, and less than 30 seconds later, Michael Ferland capitalized on a misplay by Andrei Markov. When the second period came to a merciful close, Calgary was outshooting Montreal 27-16, and getting on rather like the proverbial house on fire.
During the intermission, Calgary announced that Hamilton was done for the night, and in the early moments of the third, Stone left the ice in a great deal of discomfort.
The Habs got a few more chances as a consequence of the Flames’ short-handed situation. Unfortunately, though they looked a little more alive, it was not a vast improvement.
However, any momentum they may have begun to generate, quickly sputtered out, and with 3:43 left to go, Johnny Gaudreau made it 5-0.
From there on out, it was just a matter of getting to the final buzzer with no further damage done.
Some games you just have to throw in the bin, and forget about. This might be one to throw in the bin, and then set on fire.
Hopefully, whatever ails the Canadiens has time to work it’s way out of their system before their game on Sunday in Edmonton.
- Emelin looked worse than usual. Granted, he often looks lost, but after being scratched in Vancouver, he looked especially bad, especially in the first frame. However, given how abysmal the effort from the entire blue line was, perhaps singling him out especially is a touch unfair. Petry didn’t look much better.
- Montoya was definitely hung out to dry this game, and he still stopped 32 of 37 shots.
- Max Pacioretty, on the other hand, looked superb, seemingly getting scoring chances every time he stepped on the ice.
- Michael McCarron should get more (and regular) ice time. He was one of the few guys who looked like he remembered how to play hockey, and play it well.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out afterwards that most of the team was playing through the flu. In fact, that would be good news.
- I still can’t believe the Bruins traded Dougie Hamilton./