There's not a lot to say about the low scoring affair between the Phoenix Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens tonight in Glendale. It was a decidedly defensive affair despite each team registering more than 35 shots on the night. Both Mike Smith and Carey Price made some big saves, particularly from in close. The Coyotes best lines were their third and fourth lines, while Brian Gionta paced the Canadiens with points on both goals.
You can get the details from the bullet point notes after the jump. Some things that impressed me though were the efforts from the Coyotes defense that was generally solid all night, including some big checking by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris. Additionally, Taylor Pyatt, Raffi Torres, Mikkel Boedker and Cal O'Reilly all were buzzing on the ice and making headaches for the Montreal defense with their cycle play and net presence. The Coyotes weren't able to get enough goals past Price for the win, but it was a good effort to come back and tie this game in the third and force OT to get the single point - efforts like this may prove important later in the season.
Another note of interest is that the Coyotes have not beaten Montreal in their last 13 attempts, compiling a 0-8-5 record since the last win in 1998. It's a good thing we don't see more of the Habs apparently. And while Martin Hanzal was back on the ice and generally looked pretty good (his exhaustion on the second Habs goal notwithstanding), the Coyotes were definitely missing Daymond Langkow on the top unit with Shane Doan and Lauri Korpikoski.
Much more after the jump including my notes as the game progressed and a look ahead at the Coyotes long upcoming road trip.
Bullet Point Notes from the Game:
- Mike Smith and Carey Price get the start in net tonight.
- Coyotes are all over the Habs early, bringing significant pressure and it pays off. After two great shifts with pressure, Mikkel Boedker finally scores one with assists from Taylor Pyatt and Cal O'Reilly. It is Boedker's first point in 10 games although he's been getting tons of chances. 1-0 Coyotes!
- Montreal bringing back some pressure, but so far the defense is holding strong with help from some of the forwards back checking strong.
- Coyotes draw the first power play as Boyd Gordon makes a good effort and is interfered with by Brian Gionta. Montreal dominates the play for the two minutes, although one stretch pass to Ray Whitney results in a pretty good shot.
- Tomas Plekanec is ridden into the boards hard by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and is very slow to get up. It's a clean hit and an unfortunate outcome for Montreal.
- Derek Morris takes another holding penalty as he takes his hand off the stick and hauls a guy down - he objects, but they are clearly looking for this and calling it almost every time. Right away Montreal has a chance in front and eventually pushes the puck over, but the ref had blown the play dead already. Montreal is getting tons of pressure and Smith has made a few great saves (including a rebound stop on Max Pacioretty) to keep the Habs off the board.
- Coyotes weather the storm (6 total shots on the power play) and get the kill.
- Tale of two halves as the Coyotes dominate the first half and the Habs come on strong in the back half. Overall, Canadiens lead in shots 16-7 after one.
- A bad turnover early in the second lets Patrick O'Sullivan walk in alone, but a good backcheck breaks up his deke and he doesn't get a good shot off on Price.
- Just seconds later, Brian Gionta strips Boyd Gordon of the puck behind the net and puts one through Smith's five hole on a wrap around play. 1-1 game.
- Coyotes start to show some signs of life with the fourth line out there as a shot from OEL deflects off the post, but Raffi Torres can't find the rebound. Pyatt and Torres get a few more chances right in close, but they can't beat Price.
- The defensive line for the Coyotes get caught in a very long shift and Montreal makes a great transition play as Gionta finds a charging Travis Moen who fires one past Smith. 2-1 Habs.
- After two periods the Coyotes have cut into the shot lead, but Montreal is taking the play to them. Shots are 27-24 Montreal.
- Coyotes have much better jump in the third, but Price is making saves and the Habs are still creating enough pressure to be meddlesome.
- Raffi Torres gets in the zone, outlets back to Keith Yandle and then crashes the crease to find a rebound off the Yandle shot from outside and put it in the net to tie the game. 2-2!!
- DMo has a HUGE open ice check late on Aaron Palushaj in the third to break up a Montreal rush.
- Coyotes have a few good chances late, but Price stands strong and we are heading to OT. Shots in the third were 10-8 Coyotes.
- In the OT, Montreal has the first great chance as Yannick Weber fires one past Smith that clangs off the crossbar and out.
- Just a few seconds later Josh Gorges ends it for Montreal as he is able to walk into a loose puck near the circle and skate in close to fire one past Smith - no idea why the Coyotes don't attack that puck better. Alas. 3-2 Habs OT win.
Our Three Stars
1. Mikkel Boedker - scored the game's opening goal and was involved with plenty of opportunities throughout.
2. Brian Gionta - a goal, an assist and just a pest out there creating great chances throughout.
3. Carey Price/Mike Smith - both goalies made great saves to keep their teams in it as the opposition pushed the pace of play, but Price just had enough saves to win it.
Coyotes are about to embark on a significantly difficult road trip with games at San Jose, Toronto, Philly, Buffalo and Washington over the next 11 days. I usually want to win 3 of 5 on a road trip, but that might be a bit ambitious with those foes and the way they are playing right now. Let's say 5 of 10 points. It starts Saturday night in San Jose the place of the opening night debacle. Hopefully we'll see a different result and the Coyotes can get this five-game stretch started the right way.