The 500th game in the NHL for Rene Bourque and the Habs’ first of four games in Western Canada did not go as planned. Western Canada has not been a friendly place for Montreal over the last 5 seasons. They have not won many games there. The last win for Montreal in Calgary was January 5, 2002. The Habs won 4-1 and Michel Therrien was the coach of the Canadiens and Andrei Markov was a young defenceman. Dial forward 13 and a half years and everything has changed…well, Therrien is back as coach and Markov is still on defense, but they certainly did not replicate that victory.
They might have made the mistake of underestimating the young Calgary Flames and as a result they paid the price. Calgary has a young roster with not a lot of recognizable faces, especially with Michael Cammalleri and Matt Stajan out with injuries, but they have a lot of energy and work hard.
It was a very cautious start for both teams over the first 5 minutes with few shots. Calgary was generating some chances, but getting no shots so you kind of felt it was only a matter of time before they struck. It happened at 9:09 of the 1st period when 18-year-old Sean Monahan continued his quest to make it difficult for his coach to send him back to junior. It was already his 3rd goal in 4 games. He was helped out by an untimely pinch by PK Subban, Ryan White colliding with his teammate and Travis Moen coughing up the puck just outside the Montreal blue line.
Monahan also had a hand in Calgary’s 2nd goal. Late in the period Calgary doubled their lead with a Sven Baertschi goal. This time it was a giveaway behind his own net by rookie Jarred Tinordi. To be fair though, he was put in a tough position by Josh Gorges with Gorges giving him an unexpected pass. A worrisome trend was the number of turnovers by the Montreal defense.
Calgary was very fortuitous with 2 goals on 5 shots in the 1st period. This looks bad for Carey Price but it is really unfair to say so as he had no chance on either goal. On the 2nd he made the first save only to have his defense fail to clear the rebound.
The 2nd period did not look any better for the Habs, who displayed very little jump. After a careless Francis Bouillon boarding penalty, Calgary scored on the power play to make it 3-0. Curtis Glencross deflected a point shot by Dennis Wideman past Price. To give their fans just a little hope Montreal reduced the lead to 2 goals towards the end of the 2nd with a power play goal of their own. With what was already the 22 power play goal in his short career, PK Subban lashed a howitzer past a very good Joey MacDonald. Notable on the goal was that the assist to Andrei Markov earned for him his 400th career point.
In this game we saw the very best of PK Subban in that he was a force all night and really urged his teammates on. The bad was the two penalties he took in the 3rd period. While the holding call was a little iffy as he had just been slashed, the crosschecking penalty at 18:11 was a no doubter. Especially since the red hot Lars Eller had scored a goal midway through the 3rd to bring the Habs to within 1 goal of Calgary, who had already twice this season relinquished 4rd period leads. The Subban penalty effectively ended Montreal’s chances to score the tying goal. Brain cramp by last year’s Norris Trophy winner.
Only the Eller-Alex Galchenyuk-Brendon Gallagher line showed any jump. The others were fairly dead until the 3rd period when it was too late. Before the game Therrien had called out the David Desharnais-Max Pacioretty (though to be fair he only played 1 game)-Daniel Briere line. The coach wants more from the three, but I think that playing Briere on the wing is a mistake. Actually, the whole line is a mistake with no one showing a willingness to play the Erik Cole role. They all want to shoot or set up plays with no one going into the corners to dig out the puck. The 4th line, White-Moen-Brandon Prust, also had a tough night going a collective -6. Your 4th line is supposed to provide the team with energy and toughness, they are not supposed to be a defensive liability. Again I question the decision of Therrien to play Ryan White over Michael Bournival would have been a better choice with his speed, skill and energy.
Montreal is right back on the horse with a game tonight in Edmonton. Another night out west, another young opponent. I’m sure their coach has impressed upon them the importance of effort right from the drop of the puck.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees – Dan O’Halloran and Kyle Rehman
Linesmen – Don Henderson and Thor Nelson
-Goals: 1st Period:
9:09: Calgary – Sean Monahan assisted by Lee Stempniak
18:33: Calgary – Sven Baertschi assisted by Sean Monahan
16:22: Calgary – (pp) Curtis Glencross assisted by Dennis Wideman
17:46: Montreal – (pp) PK Subban assisted by Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov
10:40: Montreal – Lars Eller assisted by PK Subban and Alex Galchenyuck
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 35
Calgary – 25
-3 Stars: 1) Joey MacDonald – Calgary
2) Sean Monahan – Calgary
3) PK Subban – Montreal
-Final Score: Montreal – 2
Calgary – 3