The Habs actually held the Ducks close on Wednesday before losing in the shootout, and then they got in a bus, got on the 5, and landed in LA. There, they scratched a guy (Sven Andrighetto) and swapped a goalie (Condon out and Scrivens in) and proceeded to get in a 2-0 hole before the first period was hardly underway.
The first goal was scored at 56 seconds, not their fault. In the LA end, Pacioretty lost a skate blade and hobbled back to the bench with the ref’s help (until the official realized he couldn’t, and stopped) while the Kings enjoyed a five-on-four and capitalized on it in the form of a shot from the blueline that was originally called for Martinez but was, after the Kings had scored again at 3:33, changed to Kopitar, who had been in front on goal one.
The Kings got their second after Scrivens had seemed not to see two shots in a row from out near the blueline. Traffic? Maybe? Bad contact lenses more likely. I jest. The second goal was Pearson’s, his 12th of the year. The rest of the first was relatively uneventful except for a shoving match between Mike Brown (scratched last night in Anaheim—walked right past me in the press box. Not a huge guy) and Kyle Clifford after one between him and Lecavalier.
The Habs should have got a goal back when Pacioretty blocked a shot and took off down the ice. But he soon discovered that his stick was broken, dropped it, and kicked the puck down into the Montreal end. Hey, equipment gods—gimme a break!
The Montreal side was being outshot 9-1 when they got a power play chance. Two shots resulted, no goals. But they got one when they got a puck turned over to them in the LA zone, put it to the blueline, and saw Subban blast one from the point. It was their fourth shot. The Kings had ten. Montreal added another to make it 2-1, with a 10-5 shot advantage for LA ending the period.
The second period saw no change in the score, but a distinctly run-around style by the home team. The Habs managed to tie the Kings in shots, with eight apiece, and yet Montreal had a couple of dangerous changes. Galchenyuk got the puck when Quick wandered out and lost it, but he couldn’t score. Eller put it to Mike Brown, who zined a low shot, but it was saved. And with a minute left, the Canadiens worked it around the Kings end. It was all to no avail. Pacioretty, continuing with the bad-luck theme he had going for the night, was called for Delay of Game after he put the puck over the glass.
The third had a feel like if Montreal scored next, they were going to hang around and win the thing. The Kings ended up getting a goal. It was notable.
Subban had the puck at the redline, and he muffed it. Dwight King came in and poked it past him. Subban fell as he tried to get it, missed a stick-swing at the puck, and then watched as King cruised in, faked a slapshot, then put one five-hole just as that opened up for him. It was 3-1, and Montreal took a penalty, then another to go down by two men.
LA didn’t score, but neither, obviously, were the Canadiens dangerous. The time played out, the clock ticked down, and LA, who had been briefly behind the Ducks on the strength of the Anaheim team winning in an earlier-timezone-game (Arizona), tied them in points once more.
The Montreal team did add a goal on their 15th shot with less than six minutes to go. Eller passed it to Subban, who gave it back to him. He was inside the blueline about 15 feet when he launched the puck. It appeared to be a knuckler, and it eluded Quick over next to his left arm.
Sutter’s face on the bench said something like, “You gotta stop that.” But that’s all, and it ended 3-2.
Reactions after the game from the Montreal side focused on three things: Pacioretty’s bad luck, Montreal’s tiredness having played three games in four nights, and the Kings’ defensive excellence. Here’s Pacioretty: “They just outplayed us. My blade came out and they said they can’t blow the whistle until we have possession of the puck. Unfortunately we never got possession of the puck.” He said that the team did better in period two, but “penalties, myself included, they take some players out of the game.” He said, “I can’t remember a time I had the puck and didn’t get hit. They’re a great team. Their back end. I think for the money, Doughty’s the best at the league in what he does. You don’t notice him out there, because he just makes the right play and he makes it really easy for his teammates. Going up against him tonight was very tough.”
He went on, “That skate seemed to sum up my 2015-16 season in a nutshell. I said, you know, what more? It’s frustrating, but you’ve got to keep with it.” He commented that they have to battle, and said that the team kept at it, but they have to spend more time working on systems and so forth because they have a lot of new faces and young guys.
About the tiredness, he finished, “Tonight was the toughest situation. We really left it all out there. We played a very strong game against a very tough team. It was an emotional battle, and we came in tonight and we were definitely very slow off the start.”
His coach, Michel Therrien, also talked about the fatigue factor. “It was five in seven, because we played the Friday night before in Montreal, and then the travelling. I felt our guys didn’t have any energy tonight, and it’s understandable. This is a good hockey team [LA], the best defensive team in the league. You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit, but energy-wise, it was really tough for us.”
“We’ve been through a lot of things this year. We don’t get bounces our way lots of time, but we’ll be fine,” Therrien ended with.
The Kings have Chris Versteeg playing with Carter and Pearson. Toffoli, who was at one time with those two, is now playing with Kopitar and Lucic. That leaves Brown, Lewis, and Lecavalier, and Clifford, King, and Nick Shore.
LA has Anaheim on Saturday at 1pm. The Canadiens travel to Winnipeg to play the Jets. Canadian fans just hope for a three-point game to make the playoffs a little more possible.