Things are looking up for the Montreal Canadiens, who begin a three-game road trip on Saturday night at Detroit.
Actually, you could say the 2021 Stanley Cup finalists, who started the season with five straight losses, are finally looking down; they moved out of the Atlantic Division cellar for the first time this season with a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
The win put Montreal two points ahead of the last-place Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic and gave the Canadiens a respectable 4-5-1 record since their poor start.
Some potentially good news for Montreal is that two of their four wins this season have come over Detroit, outscoring the Red Wings 9-1. The bad news is the Canadiens have yet to win back-to-back games this season and are a dismal 1-5-0 on the road.
Nick Suzuki and Brendan Gallagher both had a goal and an assist and Jake Allen made 24 saves in the win over Calgary. Suzuki got his game winner in the third period, banking a shot from behind the goal off the skate of Flames’ goalie Jacob Markstrom that bounced into the net to break a 2-2 tie.
Suzuki, who has nine points in his past five games, had tried a similar shot earlier that Markstrom stopped.
“He was more off the post on the second one,” Suzuki said. “He had some words (after the first one). I think he said it wasn’t going to work on him. The second one went in and he gave me a little tap a few shifts later, so he was probably mad it went in off him.”
Montreal finished its five-game homestand with a 2-2-1 record, concluding with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings and the win over Calgary.
“It was an intense game, physical enough, and our players responded,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “From beginning to end, I thought we were solid for 60 minutes.”
Montreal now will try to make up more ground in the Atlantic standings with a difficult road back-to-back starting with Saturday night’s game against the surprising Red Wings. Detroit is third in the Atlantic, one point ahead of two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay. The Canadiens then face Boston, which is 5-1-0 at home this season, on Sunday night.
Detroit comes in off a 2-0 home loss to the Washington Capitals as goaltender Zach Fucale made 21 saves in his NHL debut to snap a three-game win streak by the Red Wings.
Dmitry Orlov and Lars Eller scored goals 10 seconds apart midway through the first period to give Washington an early 2-0 lead that the Red Wings, who were 0-for-4 on the power play including a two-man advantage for 1:24 in the second period, couldn’t overcome. Goalie Thomas Griess finished with 27 saves, and the Red Wings also killed a 1:49 two-man advantage for the Capitals.
“(Griess) kept us in the game all night, because we didn’t play the way we needed to play,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We didn’t create chances, we didn’t get to the center of the ice, and our power play wasn’t good enough.”
“You have to find a way to score a goal,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said of his team’s failure to capitalize on its lengthy two-man advantage. “Certainly, momentum is a part of it. But we had just killed a five-on-three they didn’t score on, and we get one, you have to find a way to score. It’s disappointing that we didn’t. We had a couple of looks but not good enough.”
–Field Level Media