Habs Fall Short Of A Win In St. Louis

Photo by Scott Rovak / NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Rovak / NHLI via Getty Images

Habs Fall Short Of A Win In St. Louis

Despite a strong first two periods, the Habs gave up 2 goals and the overtime winner to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday evening.

First Period: Shots 13-12 St. Louis

Goal: Paul Byron (Tomas Plekanec, Mark Barberio), 10:06

The period had barely begun when Robby Fabbri ran into Al Montoya, clipping him at the neck, and stopping all play while a team doctor came out to check on Montoya. Though he seemed shaken, Montoya continued the game, and came up with big saves.

This one, in particular, was breathtaking:

The Habs opened the scoring with with a fluke of a goal, when the puck went into the net behind Jake Allen, and possibly off the skate of Paul Byron.

Byron was credited with the goal, and the Habs were 1-0.

The period continued with Montoya playing a solid game, and the Habs killing off 3 penalties.

Second Period: Shots 7-6 Montreal

Goal: Tomas Plekanec (Paul Byron), 17:42

The second period was just as strong for the Canadiens. A penalty kill turned into a 4-on-4 when the Blues took a penalty, and the Habs played mostly in the Blues’ zone for the entire 2 minutes. Two posts were hit, but no goals scored. Still, it was a strong sequence.

Then, with 2-1/2 minutes left to the end of the period,  Tomas Plekanec scored his first goal in 13 games. Byron was, once again, front and centre with a pass that found Plekanec perfectly, for the backhand into the net:

It was a good time for this to happen too; Plekanec was having a strong game, and his rewards (a goal and assist) were well deserved. He and Byron were perfect together.

The period had gone with nobody scoring until this one, and going into the third with 2 goals up seemed to be a good place for the Canadiens to be, in this last of a long road trip.

Third Period: Shots 9-8 St. Louis

Goals: Paul Stastny (Jaden Schwartz, Colton Parayko), 7:40; Jaden Schwartz (Paul Stastny, Jay Bouwmeester), 10:31

By the third period, the Habs were skating strong, but one goal at the 7-minute mark put the Blues on the board, and it seemed the Canadiens began to slow down. The goal, by Paul Stastny, was at an almost-impossible angle, and beat Montoya with Stastny’s quick release.

The Blues tied the game halfway through the period, and the Habs’ 2-period lead was gone.

The game unfolded with smart moves by the Habs, saving goals that were almost certain to go in, but not getting any to go ahead.

Already missing Alex Galchenyuk in the line-up, the Habs lost another centre when David Desharnais was injured after he checked Jay Bouwmeester against the boards:

Not too long afterward, Andrei Markov went into the tunnel, walked off what appeared to be a sore knee, but returned to the game.

The game went to overtime.

Overtime: Shots Tied at 3

Goal: Jaden Schwartz (Alexander Steen), 3:38

Overtime was exciting – I happen to like the 3-on-3 when it’s played well. There were a lot of chances, shots were tied at 3 all, and it almost looked like there would be a second shootout in as many games for the Habs.

But Jaden Schwartz got the winning goal at 3:38, and the game ended.

Some Thoughts:

  • Injuries: we do not know the status of Alex Galchenyuk, only that he is out “indefinitely”. The announcers at Sportsnet, broadcasting the game, felt that the injury is not urgent, as Galchenyuk was not immediately flown home, but will return with the team. That’s only speculation, though, and we have to steel ourselves for a long stint without our best centre for the foreseeable future.

Now we’ve got no word on Desharnais, and whether or not people want to admit it, he is a loss. He had a strong game, and is not just a forward but a centre. This leaves the Habs at a deficit, and already the armchair coaches/GMs on social media have the roster fixed.

We have no choice but to wait. Still, it’s very disconcerting to have these two players out for any length of time. Injuries are worrisome, no matter to whom they happen.

  • Tomas Plekanec played one of his best games this season, and his 2 points are the proof. Perhaps the spark has been lit?
  • Paul Byron continues to give us all the confidence we need that he will make things happen. He also recorded 2 points in this game, and came close to more. He’s a tremendous player, and – just as it is with Alexander Radulov – does anything needed in order to advance his team’s chances.
  • Super solid game from Al Montoya. Despite the loss, he was stellar in nets. This was an example of some of the acrobatics he displayed:
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

  • All in all, coming away with 1 point, given the lost lead, was a silver lining. The road trip yielded 5 points out of a possible 10, but the Habs played some of their best hockey in the last two games (Los Angeles and St. Louis).

Given the injuries to two centres, it’s not a bad outcome, the 1-point consolation prize Tuesday night.

Now, we have to see how the team responds to these two gaps in the lineup. We’ll know more in the coming days.

The next game will be back at the Bell Centre, Thursday December 8th, when the New Jersey Devils visit the Canadiens. Puck drop is back to its regular 7:30 p.m. ET.

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