MONTREAL - Rookie hopeful Max Pacioretty might want to give his father some of the credit for breaking the ice and scoring his first pre-season goal.
Pacioretty further cemented his bid to make the Canadiens team when he scored in regulation and in the shootout as Montreal downed the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in NHL pre-season action Tuesday night.
When Pacioretty learned at the game-day skate that he would be playing against the defending Stanley Cup champs on a line with Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang, he decided it was time to bring in his parental reinforcements.
"I called my dad this morning and told him who I was playing with, and he hopped in the car as soon as he got off the phone," said the 19-year-old Pacioretty, a native of New Canaan, Conn., about a seven-hour drive away.
"I know that my first goal of the season each year has been in front of my parents. So I had a feeling this morning that I had to call my dad and get him up here, because it's been too many games."
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau has been pretty clear that there's not much room on his roster for a rookie to make the team, but Pacioretty's play has even him doubting that statement now.
"Every game he plays his adaptation, I wouldn't say it's easy but it seems to be going without a hitch," Carbonneau said. "He shows us something more every time. We'll have a difficult decision to make."
Carey Price won his second straight shootout for the Canadiens (5-2-0), making 28 saves and stopping Valtteri Filppula on Detroit's final attempt to preserve the win.
Ville Leino scored in both regulation and the shootout for the Red Wings (2-1-1), who sat most of their all-stars aside from Marian Hossa.
After Leino and Pacioretty exchanged goals as the first shooters of the shootout, Price stopped Hossa before Robert Lang came down on Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and beat him with a deke to his backhand.
The Montreal penalty killers did a commendable job, keeping Detroit off the scoreboard on eight power-play opportunities, including a 45-second two-man advantage midway through the third period.
The strongest penalty killer was Price, who made a highlight reel stop during a Wings power play in the third. Brian Rafalski took a point shot into a crowd in front that Price kicked up into the air, and then wheeled his stick around to bat the puck out of midair to safety.
Carbonneau says his young number one goalie is slowly erasing any doubts that seeped in following an unspectacular performance in last season's playoffs
"There were a lot of question marks from a lot of people after we lost to Philadelphia, which is normal in sports," he said. "When you lose you always try to find excuses why you lost, and in hockey the goalie is always the guy you put on top. But if you go back in time and look at his record and how he reacted to different things, there is no reason to think he can't come back this year and be as good as he was before."
Howard - third on the Red Wings depth chart - went the distance, stopping 26 shots.
The game marked the first time of the pre-season Kovalev played with his former Pittsburgh Penguins linemate Lang, and the line they formed with Pacioretty was Montreal's most dangerous of the night.
"It's definitely different," Lang said. "We're a little older and our games are different than they were eight years ago."
Playing with those two veterans, it was Pacioretty - named the game's first star - who had his footprints all over the game.
He created a great chance in the first when he poked a puck away from veteran Chris Chelios at the Red Wings blue-line before setting up Kyle Chipchura in front, and on the same shift Pacioretty hammered Tomas Kopecky into the boards.
On his goal at 4:42 of the second, Pacioretty grabbed a puck in the neutral zone, fed Kovalev at the blue-line and cut to the net. He then outmuscled Kopecky driving the net, took a return pass from Kovalev and flipped a backhand past Howard for his first of the pre-season to make it 1-0 Canadiens.
He also came close to winning it in regulation when Kovalev sent him in on a partial break, but Howard made the stop.
"I got a lot of good bounces tonight, but look at who I was playing with," Pacioretty said. "Anyone could play well with those two linemates, so I've got to take it with a grain of salt."
Leino, who turns 25 next Tuesday, is also making a strong push to grab the last available forward spot on the Red Wings. An undrafted free agent signed in May, Leino finished second in Finnish league scoring last year with 77 points in 55 games playing for Jokerit Helsinki.
He is said to be competing with Darren Helm for a spot, and likely helped himself with a goal off a lucky break at 6:35 of the second. Canadiens defenceman Ryan O'Byrne's clearing attempt bounced off Wings defenceman Brett Lebda and bounced in front to a wide open Leino, who put a shot through Price's legs for his second of the pre-season.
Notes: Kovalev was given the Jean Beliveau Trophy prior to the game in recognition of his charitable work in the Montreal community. Kovalev has purchased a luxury suite at the Bell Centre where he invites sick children to watch a game through a program called Kovy's Kids. He also started his Kovalev and Friends for Kids Foundation that raises money to provide medical care for children with serious heart problems. ...The Canadiens announced Tuesday the signing of defenceman Frederic St-Denis, 22, who played in the CIS last season with the University of Quebec Trois-Rivieres. St-Denis played three seasons of major junior with Habs winger Guillaume Latendresse for the Drummondville Voltigeurs.