Rabid Habs

Habs Battle Back, Lose 4-3 in Shootout

Considering the way the game began, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if most Habs fans turned the television off, opting for the extra sleep after the 1st period. Montreal sleepwalked their way through the first period, as the first frame closed with the Kings ahead 2-0. The score was not entirely reflective of the play however, as LA dominated possession, shots, shot attempts and scoring chances. Gaborik opened the scoring after creating separation and tipping home a point shot at the end of a power play. Jeff Carter made it 2-0 when he found open space in the offensive zone and took the puck hard to the net.

The Canadiens steadied themselves in the first half of the second period. Tokarski made some big saves, including a breakaway stop to keep the game within reach. He was eventually rewarded as Tom Gilbert, following a Desharnais face off win, swooped down from his point position and scored a beautiful goal, showing patience and touch. PK helped to tie the score less than 2 minutes later, pinching in to win a puck battle on the boards, sweeping the puck to Plekanec in the high slot, who found a driving Gallagher who finished a nice passing play.

The Canadiens began to push back in the third, dominating the majority of the period. Pacioretty capitalized on a Desharnais set-up, which followed sustained pressure in the offensive zone. Ahead 3-2, the Canadiens looked to gain strength as the game unfolded. The Habs showed a physical edge, as Devante Smith-Pelley and Brandon Prust landed some nice checks. Unfortunately, the Canadiens were unable to score the insurance goal, allowing the Kings to hang around as the game wound down. With under 2 minutes to go, Eller was whistled for an incidental high stick. The Kings found the back of the net, scoring the tying goal with under a minute to play. Once again, all three Kings goals were scored down low, exploiting soft defensive zone coverage.

The five minute overtime solved nothing, so the teams headed to shootout. Despite their 6-2 record in the skills contest, the Canadiens were unable to grab the second point. Desharnais and Pacioretty scored gorgeous goals and Eller was foiled when he hit the crossbar in a bid to extend the shootout. Tokarski, who played a solid 55 minutes, was unable to lock down the net and was beaten with shots high to both the glove hand and blocker side.

Once again, despite a very slow start, the Canadiens improved their play as the game progressed. Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry had very solid games. Up front, Smith-Pelley left an impression with his physical play, while Gallagher removed himself from another goalie’s Christmas card list. Of note, Mike Weaver played just over 5:00 minutes. As of this article’s creation, it was undetermined if he was hurt, sick or otherwise. The Canadiens travel next to Phoenix for a contest vs the Coyotes on Saturday night.