With the announcement that Andrei Markov would not be returning to the line-up for a while due to another surgery that will need to be performed in the coming days, Montreal entered Los Angeles looking to end their current skid. L.A. started the game in a physical way as they hit anything that moved, clearly trying to intimidate the Habs. Their aggressive fore-check led to Montreal taking two straight penalties early, giving them a two man advantage for over a minute.
The Habs did a nice job of killing both penalties as the Kings never got a chance to set up in their zone. Moments after the kill, Jack Johnson opted to dump the puck into the Habs zone so he could make a line change. Carey Price went to play the puck from behind his net but quickly realized that the puck took a bad hop off the boards and was headed straight for the empty cage. Price instantly reacted and dove for the puck with his paddle down and just got enough of it to prevent a fluky goal.
The Kings continued to throw their weight around in the period which led to another power play for their team. Just like the previous two kills, Montreal did not give the Kings any space to work with and successfully killed off this one as well. The Kings aggressiveness finally caught up to them at the 17:10 mark of the period. This is when Dustin Brown got called for tripping while his team was in the Canadiens zone. This gave the Habs the perfect opportunity to salvage the period as at this point they were being dominated by the Kings.
After settling the puck down Yannick Weber took a point shot with traffic in front. Jonathan Bernier made the save but the rebound went straight to Andrei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn wisely opted to make a back pass to Tomas Plekanec instead of the taking the shot himself. This gave Plekanec a perfect shooting lane and he made no mistake beating Bernier in the process.The power play goal allowed the Habs to escape the period with a 1-0 lead even though they were out-shot 14 to 5 in the period.
The Habs entered the second period with a little more energy causing the Kings to take another penalty at the 2:25 mark. Not wanting to allow another goal, L.A. did a nice job of killing their penalty and also managed to get the best scoring chance when Brown took a shot on Price while on a 2 on 1. Price made a solid stop on the play keeping his team up by one.
At 10:48, Louis Leblanc got his first career NHL point when he made a smart play to set up a goal. Leblanc carried the puck into the Kings zone and saw that he did not have any room to skate towards the net. He then made a quick stop and made the pass to Lars Eller who was entering the zone as well. Eller then had a nice give and go exchange with Kostitsyn who then riffled the puck past Bernier.
Now up by two the Habs had all of the momentum until Erik Cole took a dumb retaliation penalty sending the Kings back to the power play. Cole paid for this penalty as the Kings composed themselves after taking a time out. This is when Dustin Penner scored his first of the year deflecting Drew Doughty’s shot past Price.
Barley out of the box Cole then tried to make up for his bad penalty when he was aggressive on the puck. Unfortunately for him this led to another penalty when he broke a stick with a slash. Cole’s teammates bailed him out this time around however as L.A. did not score on the power play giving the Habs the edge early in the third.
Cole seemed determined to score after serving his second penalty as he had multiple chances to score on Bernier. His closest chance came off of a shot that managed to stop in the blue paint. The kings managed to clear that one as the Habs were crashing the net looking to restore their two goal lead.
With the close call the Kings started to push back with their aggressive game. This led to back to back goalie interference penalties as they rolled over Price. Montreal failed to convert on their two power plays as they only generated a hand full of chances.
With the clock winding down and not being able to regain a two goal lead, the Habs went back to their defensive mind set and it almost cost them. At 16:23, Michael Cammalleri got called for hooking, although it was a soft call it was called nonetheless. Luckily the Kings blew their chance a little more than a minute later when Justin Williams took a boarding call to end the power play early.
The Kings still tried to attack the Habs for the tying goal as they pulled Bernier for the extra attacker. Montreal continued to defend frustrating the Kings as they could not gain proper control of the puck. After going offside a couple of times they finally got into Montreal’s zone but could not move the puck off of the boards. The puck stayed there amongst a scrum as the clock ticked down and the Habs held on for the one goal victory.
The win allows Montreal to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot as they are now tied with eight place Washington who have two games in hand on the Habs. Montreal will now prepare for a match up against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night in hopes of making it two in a row.
HiD Three Stars
- Andrei Kostitsyn
- Carey Price
- Louis Leblanc
HiD Turning Point
Carey Price stopping the bad bounce early in the game allowed his team to escape the first period with a 1-0 lead.