Prior to tonights game against Arizona, the Montreal Canadiens were on a 4 game losing streak, where they had managed to score only 3 goals in that span and had spent the last 138 minutes and 8 seconds of game time on a scoreless streak. All that changed tonight against the Coyotes.
The Canadiens scored 2 goals on their first 5 shots in the opening period and for a while it looked like they were going to runaway with the match. But stellar play by Mike Smith, an excellent second period by the Coyotes and 3 Hab penalties allowed the Sedona Red to fight their way back into the match and start the third period with a 3-2 lead.
The third period turned into a good old hockey game, with the Canadiens scoring twice to tie up the game and then take the lead. But Christian Dvorak tied the game late for Arizona, forcing overtime and earning a much deserved point for the Coyotes.
Unfortunately the Coyotes got caught with gassed players out on the ice during the extra period and the Canadiens took advantage on a rush from a turnover, leaving Gila River Arena with a hard fought 5-4 win against the Desert Dogs.
1-0 Montreal - Less than a minute into the game it was all Montreal attacking early as the Coyotes couldn't get a stick on the puck. Trying to collect a dumped puck, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has his stick lifted by Alexander Radulov and the puck is instead collected by Phillip Danault to the left of Mike Smith. Quickly Danault passes across in front of the goaltender crease to Max Pacioretty who is crashing the net hard and able to score from a one-timer before Smith can react. Assists to Danault and Jeff Petry at 0:57.
2-0 Montreal - With Mike Smith screened by traffic in front of the net, Andrei Markov rips in a bullet from the point which beats Smith on his glove side before bouncing in off the post. Assists to Michael McCarron and Daniel Carr at 13:10.
2-1 Montreal - Coming in off a rush on the power play, Domi enters the zone and then makes a long, diagonal, cross zone pass to Christian Dvorak at the far side face-off circle. Dvorak wastes no time with the puck, shooting the puck just past Carey Price’s glove and under the top post and in under the far corner. Assists to Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson at 13:46.
2-2 Tie - During a 4 on 4 segment, a Peter Holland breakaway is saved by Carey Price before Max Domi pokes in the rebound temporarily as Price can’t find the puck to cover it. Price then pulls the puck back out the goal and the play is whistled dead. The call on the ice is no goal, but after review the call is overturned for a good goal. Assists to Holland and Connor Murphy at 15:45.
3-2 Arizona - As the 4 on 4 segment ends and Montreal get their 5th man back on the ice, Arizona scores short handed goal courtesy of a beautiful pass by Jordan Martinook to a streaming down Alex Goligoski. Goligoski is then able to score the easiest of goals on Price who expected Goligoski to dish the puck off to Tobias Rieder streaming down the right wing and gets caught out of position when he doesn't. Assisted by Martinook at 16:07.
3-3 Tie - On the power play, Max Pacioretty collects Andrei Markov’s rebound off a Coyotes’ defender right in front of Smith and is able to roof the puck from close range. Assists to Markov and Petry at 2:52.
4-3 Montreal - Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Christian Dvorak both get drawn away from the front of the net to Max Pacioretty and the puck behind the net. This opens up space for the Habs in front of Smith, which Pacioretty throws the puck to. Alexander Radulov comes down to the front of the net and collects the pass and then scores from up close on Smith. Assists to Danault and Pacioretty at 9:56.
4-4 Arizona - After a leading pass by Shane Doan, Christian Dvorak just manages to whack the puck at the same time as it reaches Price who has come out of his net to meet the puck. As a result of the two players hitting the puck at the same time, it takes a funny bounce and ends up behind Price. Unaware of the puck’s location, Price kicks his legs close which knocks the puck into the back of his own net. Dvorak scores his second of the night. Unassisted at 15:08.
5-4 Montreal - After a tired Max Domi diving poke fails to spring a Peter Holland breakaway, the Canadiens come back the other way and capitalize on a tired Arizona outfit. Alex Galchenyuk receieves a pass from Pacioretty before ripping the puck through Jakob Chychrun who may have screened Smith, which then also bests Smith. Assisted by Pacioretty at 2:13.
1. How will the Coyotes surface from their brief rest? - Given the awful performance of the Coyotes in the opening period, Arizona put on a lot of rust during their brief rest and early in the game it really looked like they were still on their break. Thankfully the Coyotes appeared to leave their rust in the first half of the game, as midway through the second period they built momentum and scored three goals within 3 minutes to give themselves a real chance at winning the game.
2. Will the Canadiens bounce back? - The Canadiens bounced back in the best way they could, scoring within the first minute of the game to end their scoreless streak and finished the first period with a 2-0 lead over the Coyotes. While they Arizona work their way back into the game, Montreal will be happy enough with a 5-4 OT win against a Western Conference opponent to end their losing streak.
3. Who will win the goalie battle? - It’s hard to call a 9 goal game one that featured a goalie duel as neither goaltender finished with pretty save percentages. However Mike Smith, who faced 16 more shots than his struggling opponent and only allowed one more goal, deserves credit as the better goalie for the night as he made some key saves that provided Arizona time to work their way back into the game.
Players of the Game
Montreal - Max Pacioretty - 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points was more than enough for first star honors for Pacioretty, who the Coyotes couldn’t shut down all night.
Arizona - Christian Dvorak - Dvorak continues to grow as a player with each game and has gotten really comfortable playing alongside line mates Brendan Perlini and captain Shane Doan. Dvorak opened the scoring for the Coyotes tonight and tied up the game late in the third to force the overtime, finishing the night with 2 big goals.
- For more on the Montreal Canadiens, check out Habs Eyes on the Prize.
- Martin Hanzal was listed as a game time decision after missing training during the Coyotes’ short hiatus due to illness.
- Hanzal wasn’t on the ice for the pre-game skate as reported by Sarah McLellan:
Holland is out there, so look for him to take Hanzal's spot on top line between Rieder and Vrbata.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) February 10, 2017
- Joining the unhealthily scratched Hanzal were the healthy scratches Josh Jooris and Kevin Connauton.
- Peter Holland didn’t end up taking Hanzal’s center spot on the 1st line to start the match, that position was instead awarded to Jordan Martinook. Holland started the game centering Ryan White and Lawson Crouse on the 4th line.
- To start the second period, Martinook was moved back to centering the 4th line while Holland got his chance on the 1st line with Tobias Rieder and Radim Vrbata.
- With Peter Holland replacing Hanzal, Holland played his first game since January 23rd against the Florida Panthers. Against the Canadiens he recorded 1 assist and 3 shots on goal in 13:15 minutes of ice time.
- In the abscene of Hanzal, Alex Goligoski donned the alternative captain ‘A’ for the night.
- Arizona Coyotes’ fans got a first-hand look at Montreal right wing Michael McCarron, a possible trade target for Arizona if they are to send Hanzal to the Canadiens. After finishing the game tonight with an assist, McCarron now has 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 36 NHL career games.
- With an assist and a goal for 2 points tonight, Max Domi records his first point since his injury on December the 8th last year, and his first multi-point night since November the 8th last year.
- With 2 goals tonight, Christian Dvorak records his first multi-goal NHL game.
- Attendance: 14,098.
Arizona next host the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, in the second game of a two game home-stand. Puck drop at Gila River Arena is at 6:00pm Arizona Time and the game can also be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or tuned into on ESPN AZ Sports 98.7 FM.