It’s not often that Game 6 of the season is seen as a must win, but for the Montreal Canadiens who are mired in the worst franchise start in nearly three decades, this is exactly the situation they are in. were. Five straight losses, with just four total goals under their belt, had left them as the only team in the NHL without a point at the start of the season.
Dominique Ducharme threw the line mixer for last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, with Mathieu Perreault taking on the role of third-row center between Tyler Toffoli and Cole Caufield. Jake Evans played between Finns Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen on the fourth line, while Mike Hoffman moved up to the top three.
In defense, Sami Niku made his debut alongside Brett Kulak after missing most of the preseason with a concussion. Ben Chiarot took a seat next to Jeff Petry, while Alexander Romanov and David Savard formed a new-look third pair.
It was a good start for the Canadians who clocked in a ton of zone and puck control time while the Red Wings did their best to keep the Habs away. However, as has been the case all season, a penalty appeal put control of the game back in the hands of the opponent from the start. Detroit didn’t need a lot of time on its power play. Barely seven seconds after Ben Chiarot’s minor stumble, Dylan Larkin landed a shot from the post to make it a 1-0 game.
The Canadians followed up with a change in which they failed to clear their lines on several occasions, giving the Wings another huge chance to add to their lead, but a few solid saves from Jake Allen kept the deficit at bay. just one.
Then Jonathan Drouin’s quick feet tripped, giving the Habs a chance to even the game on the power play. Unsurprisingly, the power play looked rambling and failed to save a shot on goal. However, Chiarot was able to redeem his previous penalty, in part thanks to a brilliant stitching pass from Drouin. The Habs winger had two options, either toss the puck or return a pass to the point. Drouin opted for the latter, hitting Chiarot in stride and the tall defender shot past Thomas Greiss to tie the game at one goal apiece.
After a disastrous first attempt on the power play, the Canadiens’ second went much better. Hoffman missed the net on his first try, but managed to take the rebound along the boards. He then spun outside the face-off circle and unleashed a laser beam Greiss never saw to put Montreal in the lead with their first two-goal game of the season.
They also got a third straight power play afterwards, but Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki were unable to find another goal on the advantage. Nonetheless, Montreal opened the first intermission with a one-goal lead.
The Habs came out full blast to start the second period, with Hoffman leading a three-on-one race and testing Greiss with another big wrist shot. He was referring to the offense that was about to come.
The goals started flying fast and furiously, thanks to a bit of luck and Marc Staal’s skate. The second line exploded in the area after Kulak sent the puck past Drouin. He handed it over to Christian Dvorak, who dropped it off for Niku. The puck was returned to Dvorak, who attempted another pass, but deflected Staal’s heel and passed Greiss.
Relentless pressure from the neutral zone then resulted in a turnaround from Carter Rowney, which Perreault picked up. The newly formed third-row center had all kinds of space in the Detroit zone and opted to call his own number as he scored his first of the year after Greiss to make it a three-goal lead.
It didn’t take long for Perreault to regain the back of the net, this time thanks to more pressure from the forwards. Caufield circled a loose puck, entered the lunge, and fired a shot with Greiss’ glove. The rebound fell right at the feet of Tyler Toffoli, and he slipped a blind pass through the crease to Perreault, who easily brought him home to take Montreal’s lead to four.
The Habs had to end the period by killing another penalty, with Allen having to score a big goal to close the second period and keep that four-goal lead intact.
With Detroit’s remaining power play time to open the third, play got rather sloppy as both teams seemed content to just flip the puck and run out of time. However, after Givani Smith pushed Tyler Toffoli off the Habs bench, Montreal returned to the power play.
With the obvious intention of getting him a hat trick, most of the power play was spent filtering the pucks towards Perreault. Despite some solid looks from a distance, the Canadians did not add to their lead.
The Wings decided that an aggressive goalie strike was their best chance to enter the game with more than six minutes to go. Chiarot recovered a loose puck, throwing it in front but missing the net. Perreault was there to pick it up and drop it into the empty net to complete his natural hat trick.
Jake Allen made some big saves as the Red Wings pushed on to try and find some sort of silver lining in the loss, but the Montreal goalie held on to finally allow the Habs to secure their first win of the season.
Score final: Montreal 6, Detroit 1
The next stop for the team is their annual trip to the US West Coast, starting with a trip to Seattle for the very first encounter with the Kraken at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday night.