Habs vs Leafs Game Recap: The Kids Are Alright
Daniels Audette and Carr gave the Habs a great shot against the Leafs.
Going against what may well be very close to this year’s Toronto Maple Leafs roster, the Montreal Canadiens once again elected to dress the kids. While they acquitted themselves as well as could be expected, they definitely looked like an AHL team playing an NHL team ... which was essentially the situation.
Mike Condon was called upon early to make big saves against William Nylander and Auston Matthews, but by and large the game began on pretty even footing. The Habs drew the first power play, but struggled a little — not terribly surprising, given that few of the likely forwards to be on the power play this season were dressed for this game. However, we did get a very nice sampling of the point shots of Greg Pateryn and Jeff Petry.
Matthews had a good shot through a scramble in front of Condon, but the Habs came back the other way, and Daniel Audette scored a classic Mike Cammalleri goal from his knees on a nice pass from alternate captain Nathan Beaulieu.
Stefan Matteau took a penalty with four minutes left, but the Habs’ penalty killers were up to the task, Zach Redmond even got a shot off short-handed.
Condon looked shaky throughout, but got the job done in the first, as the period ended 1-0 Habs, the shots 7-4 in the Leafs’ favour.
Two minutes into the second, Sergachev took a penalty, desperately trying to keep Matthews from the net, but again, the Habs’ penalty kill, though very scrambly and full of turnovers, pulled through.
At 9:19 of the second, capitalizing off one of the aforementioned turnovers, Nikita Zaitsev walked in and snapped a shot straight through Condon to tie the game.
Very shortly thereafter, Beaulieu took an elbowing penalty, which gave us a very nice glimpse of Lehkonen looking right at home on the penalty kill.
Audette continued to show his skills with a very strong shift in his own end, even bailing out Sergachev, and preventing what could have been a costly turnover.
With about five minutes left in the period, Beaulieu took a delay of game penalty, and Matthews rang a puck off the bar, but again, the Habs played with fire and escaped unscathed.
Shortly thereafter, Roman Polak took a tripping penalty against David Desharnais, and the Daniel Carr - Artturi Lehkonen - Audette line swarmed the net, but Garret Sparks pulled through for his first few saves of the game. Sven Andrighetto, Desharnais, and Charles Hudon had a similarly strong shift, as that Habs’ power play definitely was their best of the game.
Mikhail Sergachev had a beautiful end-to-end rush up ice, culminating in a good, clean shot, only to be thwarted by Sparks.
Morgan Rielly scored at around the seven-minute mark on a shot that Condon definitely should have had.
Mark Barberio did a really nifty job taking the puck away from Milan Michalek, threatening in front of the Habs’ net, but immediately took a delay of game penalty as he put the puck over the glass in his attempt to clear it.
The Habs killed the penalty, and had a few good chances afterwards, one from Petry, and one from Carr on a net-front scramble.
With scarcely three minutes left in the period, Hunwick tripped up Scherbak, and the Habs went to their third power play of the evening. Seconds later, Roman Polak put the puck over the glass, giving the Habs a 5-on-3. The Habs called a time out, and pulled Condon.
In the resulting the six on three, the Habs continuously set up Desharnais as the triggerman on the point together with Beaulieu and Petry, and three forwards around the net hunting for the rebound.
Lehkonen had a huge chance, and with 17.1 seconds left in the period, Daniel Carr put the puck in the net completely unguarded directly in front of Sparks.
Three-on-three hockey led to some wild run and gun play as the Habs and Leafs traded all sorts of crazy chances, leading to some defensive heroics from both teams. Lehkonen had a spectacular back-check on one end, Kadri on the other, and no one could hit the net.
Scherback nearly scored on the backhand, and Audette nearly had his second to end it, but it would be Hunwick who got another weak one through Condon.
Given the fact that the Leafs essentially iced their NHL team, including their top prospects, and the Habs once again elected to not play most of their veterans, all things considered, this game was a pretty good one.
- Sergachev had a couple of good shots, and a couple of bad turnovers, and was victimised by Matthews and Marner, but will be just fine in the long run. In fact, it’s probably for the best that he not be rushed into the NHL anyway.
- Condon had a really bad night, giving up a pair of goals he definitely would have liked back, and generally overplaying the puck and scrambling to make saves.
- The Habs took far, far too many penalties this game, but the penalty kill did their job.
- Lehkonen shone like the bright diamond that he is, and although he’s yet to score a goal, he’s been doing everything else right. He was nicely visible throughout the game, especially in the offensive zone early, but also with good defensive zone play on the penalty kill./
With Lehkonen on the ice tonight, the Habs had 57.89% of shot attempts. Without him? 28.89%. He was the only positive differential player.— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) October 3, 2016
- Pateryn and Beaulieu continue to show that their play has taken a big step up from last year — Beaulieu especially, unfortunate penalties aside, picking up assists on both Habs’ goals.
- Kirk Muller’s influence continues to be felt, and the puck carrying style of play that the Habs began last season with appears to be back to some extent./