Throwback Night may have been Thursday, but tonight's performance was reminiscent of the way the Arizona Coyotes have played throughout the Tippett years. Unfortunately, their offense was unable to reward the team's stout defensive performance.
Carey Price recorded his 7th shutout of the season as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 2-0 Saturday night at Gila River Arena. The win capped off a 1-2-1 West Coast road trip for the Canadiens.
Unlike the Vancouver game, where Arizona started strong, the Habs took it to the Coyotes early. Despite an early Arizona power play, the Habs outshot the Coyotes 15-5 in the first period. Arizona's power play struggled to gain the zone all night long, and the shots they did manage were easily gobbled up by Price.
On the other end however, Mike Smith looked to be every part Price's equal. The Coyotes' netminder was making key saves at key times while limiting the number of easy rebound chances that Montreal could get. And whatever Smith didn't get to, his defenders did. The defensive coverage in the slot was among the best the Coyotes have had in a long time.
But given the sheer volume of shots the Coyotes were giving up, their good play would only hold for so long. The Habs finally broke through at 14:48 of the second period, when Lars Eller was able to rifle home a spinaround shot that Smith wasn't expecting. The defensive play wasn't bad, but Smith did not have his stick down all the way on the ice, and the puck just found enough room to squeak in.
Arizona would rise to the challenge in the third period, outshooting the Canadiens 15-8, but Carey Price was in a groove. He made stop after stop in key opportunities, and the Coyotes were just unable to find a way past him. A Brendan Gallagher empty-net goal at 19:58 would seal the game for the Canadiens, who once again rode Price's back to victory.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- 3rd Star: Lars Eller - His goal would stand up as the game winner, and it was a pretty one at that.
- 2nd Star: Mike Smith - Smith made 33 saves on 34 shots for a .971 save percentage. On most nights, that's good enough to win.
- 1st Star: Carey Price - The Vezina Trophy frontrunner should by all rights be in the Hart Trophy conversation as well. He stopped all 28 shots he faced tonight.
- To get Montreal's perspective, check out Eyes On the Prize.
- For the third consecutive game, Brandon Gormley was the lone scratch for Arizona.
- Neither team scored on the power play; Arizona was 0 for 2, while Montreal was 0 for 1, including an extended stretch at 4 on 3.
- The Coyotes nearly scored less than three minutes into the third period, but the puck sat on top of Carey Price's pad, and after video review, there was insufficient evidence to say the puck completely crossed the line.
- The shot attempts count ended in a draw; Arizona's 30 unblocked attempts in the third pulled them even with Montreal for the game at 63 events apiece.
- Attendance: 14,094
Arizona's homestand continues Monday night with a game against the Nashville Predators. Puck drops at 7 PM Arizona time.