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Slow start, stumbling finish spoiled what could have been a great game for Montreal

Montreal is currently in the midst of one of their toughest stretches of games this season, playing four straight versus teams that all have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup. They obliterated the Winnipeg Jets in a laugher, pushed the pre-season favourite Toronto Maple Leafs to overtime, and then rolled into Nashville on Valentine’s Day.

Things didn’t get off to the best start. At one point the Predators owned a lopsided shot advantage as Montreal struggled to find any time in the other end in the opening period. Luckily, having Carey Price makes up for a slow start most games, and he was as good as he possibly could have been in this game.

In the second period the offence exploded for 21 shots against Pekka Rinne, and despite a goal against, attacked relentlessly. It was what we’ve come to expect from the Canadiens this year, attacking with speed through the zones, weaving through a defender, and setting up a perfect east-west pass for chances. The entire period was the Montreal attack finding seams, and forcing Rinne to make the tough saves.

It looked like that momentum would continue into the final period. Until it didn’t.

Tomas Tatar got an early goal, using the second period’s formula for success, but from there the wheels fell off. Assignments were missed on Nashville’s go-ahead goal, then a miscommunication between Jordie Benn and Brendan Gallagher put the nail in the coffin as the Predators added another.

Tampa Bay is up next, and they have the ability to turn any small mistake into a goal against, Montreal is going to need to crystallize the effort from their second period against Nashville to not give them the chance to do that.

This team is capable of going punch for punch with the best. They just have to avoid tripping themselves up along the way.

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