Recap – Canadiens vs Kings: Habs Rally From Poor Start, Lose in SO

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(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game 65, Away Game 32 | Thursday March 5, 2015
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA.

CANADIENS
Montreal

teamlogo_canadiens

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KINGS
Los Angeles

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

 

Lineup scratches: P.A. Parenteau, Manny Malhotra, Sergei Gonchar
Injured reserve:  Alexei Emelin (upper-body)

Game Notes:

The Canadiens sometimes play like a reckless, young teenager. There’s a feeling that they are invincible.  Being ill-prepared, taking periods off and even irrational coaching decisions can be erased because the Habs have the best player in hockey tending their goal. Except when they don’t.

Metrics weren’t required to know how fully and completely the Kings dominated the first period.  Even the NHL scorers provided the Canadiens with a gift shot on goal as the period ended so that the carnage wouldn’t be so evident.  Lars Eller had the only genuine shot in the opening frame.  Los Angeles was winning all of the battles.  Dustin Tokarski was blameless on the first two goals that he allowed.

The Canadiens played better in the second period — it would have been hard not to.  That said, shots were 15-5 for the Kings at the midway point of the game and the home side was still getting the scoring chances.  Jeff Carter rang one of the post after David Desharnais lost a puck battle to Dwight King.  Then Tokarski made a nice save on a breakaway by Marian Gaborik.  The Habs could have been in a much deeper hole.

But then it was a highlight reel goal by Tom Gilbert that turned the momentum.  Gilbert, who was the goat on the Kings first goal, drove the puck to the net off a faceoff and around Jonathan Quick.  Gilbert was aided by a pick on Justin Williams from a linesman.

Tom Gilbert will remain reluctant to use his size in front of teh Habs goal, and Jeff Petry will get caught on ill-timed pinches but the duo was the best defense pair on this night.

Brendan Gallagher tied the game about 90 seconds later.  The Canadiens had found their legs and had started using their speed to beat the Kings to pucks.

The third period was entertaining and far more evenly played.  Notorious referee Chris Lee decided to make his presence felt. Midway through the frame Max Pacioretty was slashed and tripped against the boards in the Kings zone.  He ended up on his back with the blade missing from his stick. Lee promptly assessed Max a two-minute minor for playing with a broken stick. Truly bizarre.

Another odd penalty would play a part at the end of the game. With 1:35 remaining, Lars Eller effectively cleared the puck from the defensive zone.  A desperate, lunging Drew Doughty was clipped by the follow through.  The Kings tied the game on the ensuing power-play. Irrationally, a few hate-filled fans tried to pin the loss on Eller.

The normally stingy Canadiens penalty kill gave up two goals including the game-tying marker. A huge part of the penalty-kill is the play of Carey Price. While competent, Tokarski simply doesn’t offer an elite level of goaltending.  And it is clear that Price would have outperformed his backup in the shootout.

In the shootout, neither goalie played well. Quick was very lucky as Alex Galchenyuk lost control of the puck and Eller rang one off the iron after beating the Kings goaltender.  Tokarski looked small and failed to make a save.  The Kings came into the game on an 0-for-22 stretch in shootouts and scored three times on Tokarski.  Anze Kopitar, who scored the game-deciding goal, was 0-for-7 in the shootout this season.

Scoring chances chances were 22-12 in favour of the Kings. The Habs simply can’t allow the opponents such an advantage and hope to win without Price in goal.

Plus / Minus

▲     Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, Tom Gilbert, Jeff Petry, David Desharnais

▼     Alex Galchenyuk, Bryan Flynn, Mike Weaver, Torrey Mitchell

 Statistics
CANADIENS KINGS
18 Shots 29
0 for 3 Power Play 2 for 5
46% Face-offs 54%
15 Penalty Mins 11
40 Hits 31
31 Fenwick For 48
42 Corsi For 66
 Scoring
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens  (41-18-6) 0 2 1 0 0 3
 Kings (31-21-12) 2 0 1 0 1 4
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL:  Gilbert (3), Gallagher (18), Plekanec (25)
  • LAK:  Gaborik (18), Carter (22), Gaborik (19)  Game-deciding goal: Anze Kopitar
  • MTL: Tokarski (L) 5-5-3
  • LAK: Quick (W) 27-17-10
 NHL Three Stars
NHL3stars
  1.  Marian Gaborik  LAK
  2.  David Desharnais  MTL
  3.  Jeff Carter  LAK

 Video Highlights

 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Michel Therrien
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  • “We started playing in the second period. We didn’t play well in the first. We played like a team (that) played last night.”
  • “We had a really, really difficult first period. From the second we competed with the Kings. I liked our last two periods.”
  • “There was not much to say after the first (period). Players handled it.”
  • “Lars (Eller) had a good match. For the past few games he has been playing well, he is working hard. His penalty late in the game, was just bad luck. In the shootout, he hit the crossbar. I liked his effort. He works hard, he is involved and I can feel it. When a player is engaged, you try to give him opportunities.”

Max Pacioretty

  • “It’s not a good result at all. We had that game in the bag, and we were playing the right way. Then we obviously let it slip, and that is a frustrating feeling. We’ve got to find ways to close out games, especially against an opponent like that, who has had success of late.”
  • “That was a great play. That’s the type of locker room we have. It can be anyone to step up and change momentum and it was [Tom Gilbert] against L.A. He made a great play on that goal singlehandedly to put it together. It got us going. It jump started our offense.”

Dustin Tokarski

  • “You let three out of four [goals go] in in the shootout, you never did your job. Obviously I’d like to battle it out and make one or two of those.”

Kings forward Jarret Stoll

  • “We let them get back in the game. It was 2-0 and we had some chances to make it 3-0 and they found their legs in the second. Any time it’s 2-0 and you give up a goal, it gives that team life. We know that. It gives them extra energy, extra jump, and they got two quick goals to tie it up.”

Kings coach Darryl Sutter

  • “If you’re a Canadian, everybody’s looking at the standings. I’m a Canadian, so I’m looking at them.”
  • “There’s no ‘must. You don’t have to do anything. Try and win. There’s no such thing as a must-win. Nobody gets locked up or thrown in the ocean. It’s just a game.”
  • “We should have been up three or four to nothing. We didn’t put it away when we had glorious opportunities to do it in the second period.”
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