The Red Wings opened the door and let two points slip out of their fingers. The Montreal Canadiens turned the third into containing Detroit from further scoring while they regained control and overtook them to win 4-3 at Centre Bell Tuesday night. Their capture of two points that Detroit needed so desperately made things dire with just five games left in the season.
Petr Mrazek got back in the net for the Red Wings after their hold of the Buffalo Sabres Monday night. Jimmy Howard kept Detroit alive in their last home game before they took off to meet against the Canadiens. While its too late for them to make the playoffs, they’ll try to win at Centre Bell with the news of Carey Price making his return back to action before the season can come to a close.
With that being a reason to keep fighting they’ll try to prevent Detroit from making their way into playoff position with them and Boston sitting just one point apart. The Red Wings have six games left and for them every point counts no matter how they get it.
Montreal put an obstacle in front of their path eight minutes in where an even strength goal was credited to captain Max Pacioretty who got a tip at the crease of a drive from defenseman Joel Hanley. Pacioretty scored his 26th of the season and eighth point in his last nine games against Detroit. Knowing that cheap shots had to be disallowed, Mrazek made a big stop minutes later against Tomas Plekanec who tried to put the puck in on a shot to the stick side.
Though he stopped the veteran forward, he couldn’t stop what happened at 11:25 when the third line with Paul Byron in front got a stick on the rebound of Alexei Emelin’s drive from the high slot gaining his 11th of the year. Two goals were enough for coach Jeff Blashill as he replaced Mrazek for the fifth time this season. Jimmy Howard took over for him just in time to take on a Montreal power play on an interference call to Niklas Kronwall.
Riley Sheahan nearly turned the tables on them on a shorthanded breakaway but his attempts on goalie Mike Condon went south as the Boston native made the glove save receiving cheers from the Habs faithful. Howard had a mistake that almost cost him being out of the net during an offensive attack from the Canadiens. He got back in time but once against a 5 on 4 advantage on an interference call to Danny DeKeyser.
A great stop by Howard occurred when Alex Galchenyuk sniped a shot topside but watched the Red Wings goalie glove the puck. It wasn’t the last moment that Howard had to deal with as a third chance for the Canadiens to take their power play and make something of it. They didn’t convert one in the period but put enough between them and Detroit after 20 minutes. The teams shot eight times each but the damage had been done.
The Habs finished off the remainder of their power play recording shots but not the third unanswered they wanted. Montreal continued to fight it out with Howard in net but the big man made huge stops on Hanley with a drive and denied Phillip Danualt with the rebound attempt.
A bad moment came for the Red Wings as Emelin shoved Detroit Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin into the boards before putting his skate at the nether region of the 19 year old. Justin Abdelkader took none of it lightly and went after the Russian fighting him and earned a five-minute major for fighting, an instigator penalty and a game misconduct. Emelin also got a major for fighting and interference call that put the teams at 4 on 4. Larkin was taken to the locker room to follow concussion protocols and returned to the bench soon after.
The Red Wings gained plenty of time on the power play and played the last three minutes to try and get on the board. With just 1:11 left on the man advantage, Gustav Nyquist got it done on a drive from the far end scoring his 17 and first since March. 6. Longueil native Anthony Mantha got the second of his career with plenty of effort from the team.
Pavel Datsyuk squeezed his way on the boards and got the puck running with his team putting in the work. With the few shots taken at the crease of Condon, it was the rookie who scored on the glove side to tie the game at two all. To make things better for Detroit, they caught another long power play with Mike Brown cross checking and roughing up Kronwall with 5:42 left in the period.
Halfway into the double minor, the Red Wings got moving well with the puck where Datsyuk led the way with directing the path of passes between him and Mike Green. A one timer from the defenseman went into the net behind Condon scoring his sixth of the season and the game changer for Detroit.
That was how they ended the period with being on a strong note firing 11 shots and holding the Canadiens to nine. Though they’ve been in one goal situations before, the Red Wings knew that the third period would become the most serious and that some answer needed to come from all their lines on both sides of the puck.
The period began with both playing even with the puck until about three minutes in when the Red Wings let the puck get away giving possession to Montreal. After some scrambling around, the Habs got Emelin open at the far end shooting one into the net. Howard went straight to officials complaining of contact in the crease by Mike Brown, which he never recovered from in time. The Red Wings coach made the challenge confirmed and won as officials viewed the evidence and waved Emelin’s goal off.
Play resumed with Montreal searching for the game tying goal while the Red Wings tried to add to their score. Andrei Markov saw the glove of Howard when he took a great shot at the net but was denied by the glove of the Detroit netminder. The Canadiens still found a way to get things done when Plekanec came in to take a shot that redirected off the stick of Sven Andrighetto to tie the game for his seventh.
It was the key goal that brought them back it and worried the Red Wings who were looking to get back out front. It became a huge moment for the Habs as they gained the lead on their captain’s second of the night scoring on a second chance opportunity firing one into the empty net behind Howard who missed his chance to block the shot. With the margin still a goal, the Red Wings fought both time and the Habs to keep their hopes alive of gaining points. Montreal covered the firing line heavily giving Condon support near the net.
Detroit went for one last desperate attempt and pulled Howard in the final 2:30 of play. Condon kept making saves on the puck eliminating Detroit’s scoring chance to start from scratch. From every point they took to attacking the net, the Canadiens found some way of ending their chances as well as blocking them near the boards. The game ended with just that as the Montreal defense put the brakes on Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg in the final seconds to steal the game right out from under them.
Detroit took 42 shots on goal through 60 minutes and even though they had the offense figured out, they were stopped from many more by Condon who took home a well deserved victory making it his 19th saving 39. For the battery of goaltenders for Detroit, the need for a switch was bad timing and cant become a precedent with the danger of failing to make playoffs for the first time since 1991.
With the loss the Bruins took, they’ll get another chance to win when they return home to face the Minnesota Wild who like them, are fighting for a chance at the postseason.