Following Monday night’s home ice loss to Minnesota the Canadiens didn’t arrive at their Detroit Hotel until 4:00 am Tuesday. Tuesday night it showed against the Red Wings. Fortunately for the Canadiens, the Red Wings are what they are at this point in time, and Montreal came away with a 3-2 win.
It wasn’t a pretty win. Matter of fact it was downright ugly. But it ended a two game losing streak and put the Canadiens back into the second Eastern Conference playoff berth at least for now.
Jeff Petry‘s blunder led to the only goal in the loss to Minnesota Monday night. Wouldn’t you know that Petry would come back 24 hours later to score the winning goal. It came 19 seconds into the third period and gave the Canadiens a two-goal lead. Like the Monday night game, I thought Petry had a good night. The difference was the end result. Petry’s 30th point of the season, fourth on the Canadiens.
The Canadiens needed a good night from Antti Niemi and they got it. It’s never easy to watch Niemi at work. There will always be rebounds and those mad scrambles for loose pucks. But Niemi protected the lead as the more refreshed Red Wings pressed the issue in the third period. After the Wings narrowed the score to 3-2 at 4:58 of the third, Niemi stopped their final six shots to nail down his third win in his last four starts. His season record is now 7-4-1.
Brendan Gallagher‘s 16th goal of the season was unbelievable even by the standards we rate what he does around opponent’s nets. There were four Red Wings in front of the net protecting Jimmy Howard when Gallagher staked out a place between them and when Tomas Tatar’s attempt at the side of the net popped into the crease, Gallagher shot it into the net while four defenders watched including Luke Glendenning who flattened him after the fact. Typical Gallagher goal, even better. His first goal in nine games.
IT’S ALWAYS THOSE SPECIAL TEAMS
The Canadiens were penaltized five times. Seven Detroit’s 32 shots came while the Canadiens were shorthanded and the goal that narrowed the score to 3-2 came on the Detroit power play. At the other end, the Canadiens had four minutes with the man advantage during which they managed only one shot. The worst power play in the league is now at 12.6% and 0-for-11 over the last five games. Canadiens special teams are now minus-13.
….Tomas Tatar seems to enjoy sticking it to his former team. A strong game and two assists in this game and in his two games against Detroit this season he has five points. Tatar’s work at the side of the net led to the Gallagher goal and it was his pass to the trailer set up Petry for the game winner.
….No residual effect from Shea Weber‘s facial injury. He logged 28 shifts and a team-leading 24:08.
….Kenny Agostino seems to be the only permanent member of the fourth line. He played in his 23rd straight game since his recall from Laval. His linemates Matthew Peca and Charles Hudon. Neither of them accomplished much but they also didn’t hurt the team. Hudon was dressed for only the second time since November 27th.
….According to naturalstattrick.com the Canadiens held puck possession for only 45.29% of the play and yet had 72.73% of the dangerous scoring chances (8-3).
….Both Phillip Danault and Max Domi had good nights in the faceoff circle. Danault at 67%; Domi 63%.
….Domi and Drouin continue to be disfunctional together. Domi hasn’t scored in 14 games but he drew first assist on Joel Armia‘s goal.
The Canadiens move on to St. Louis for a game Thursday night before returning home for Colorado on
Saturday. They’ll play in Boston Monday followed 24 hours later with a home game against Florida which will be their sixth game in nine nights. The Canadiens jumped over the Islanders into the second wild card berth Tuesday night but the Islanders have three games in hand.