MONTREAL – For a second-straight game, the Canadiens went to extra time to decide a winner.
Coming off Friday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers, the Habs entered a rare Monday night game against Nashville ready to pick up where they’d left off. While they didn’t manage to skate off with the same result as they had in the previous game, the Canadiens did display some encouraging signs on their way to the sudden-death frame against a high-flying Central division opponent.
“Both goalies made key saves at the right times. It was a tight game – the kind of hockey you see at the end of the year,” mentioned head coach Michel Therrien, whose team is now 5-2 in shootout situations this season. “There wasn’t a lot of space with the puck. We played against a very good hockey team, a good defensive team that skates and supports the play on offense. We were able to hold them off. It could have gone either way.”
In his sixth career NHL shootout, Habs netminder Mike Condon was able to turn aside both Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg before Craig Smith was able to seal the deal for the visitors with the final shot.
“It’s a point; we’ll take it. We have three of our last four,” said Condon. “It was a good hockey game. Both teams played well-balanced and both teams had great chances, but we came out at the wrong end. It was a little sloppy, there were turnovers in the neutral zones and broken plays, but I thought we handled that well.”
Allowing just one goal on 30 shots in 65 minutes of action, Condon was stellar again for the Canadiens, earning third-star honors after helping the Habs pick up points in back-to-back games to bookend the weekend.
“He was definitely our first star tonight. He made some huge, huge saves to keep us in there,” praised Lucas Lessio of his netminder, who has faced 30 or more shots in 13 of his 39 games this year. “We could have gotten a couple for him, too, but unfortunately that’s how it goes sometimes.”
Having faced an equally spectacular Pekka Rinne at the other end of the ice, the Habs were only able to light the lamp once on Monday off a trademark Brendan Gallagher play from inside the blue paint. In fact, it was a quiet night all around on the scoresheet, as the two teams combined for just two penalties and two goals in three-plus periods.
“I think every player likes those high-flying games with 3-on-2s and I think the fans like it, too, but the reality is that systems are so good nowadays and teams are so defensively-oriented that some games are so tight it’s tough to create anything,” described Lessio, who dished out four hits in his 11 shifts against Nashville. “Shift after shift, you have to wear down their D and hopefully catch them when they’re tired. We have to come with that same effort in Washington and hope for a better result.”
The team announced following Monday’s game that Tom Gilbert will miss the remainder of the regular season and will undergo surgery on his knee. Victor Bartley has been called up from St. John’s and will join the team in time to face the Capitals on Wednesday night.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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