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Canadiens ruin Howard's night

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Jimmy Howard stopped 34 shots Tuesday night, but the Canadiens skated away with a 2-1 overtime win. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

MONTREAL – The Red Wings were three minutes and nine seconds away from getting a second straight shutout win for the first time in three years.

But Montreal centers Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais had other ideas to ruin Jimmy Howard’s incredible performance Tuesday night inside a sold-out Bell Centre.

Desharnais’s rebound at the 56-second mark of overtime lifted the Canadiens to a 2-1 comeback win, their league-leading sixth victory of the young season.

“I thought I played pretty damn good,” said Howard, who made 34 saves. “It is (tough). It is frustrating. You’re 2 ½ minutes away from getting two points and you end up losing in overtime. But they’ve been on fire offensively as of late and I thought we did a good job on their top lines.”

The winning goal was the result of scramble in front of Howard’s crease and a Canadiens’ shot from the blue line.

“It was an absolute cluster you-know-what,” Howard said. “Once again, another point shot. Montreal’s forwards do a great job of getting to the net and creating havoc. That’s what that was. The first shot ended up going in.”

Last October, Howard blanked San Jose on this same day, but Detroit had to settle for one point in the standings when the Sharks’ Logan Couture scored the only goal in the shootout. This time Howard was dealt a more difficult fate, especially when it seemed the Red Wings had padded their one-goal lead in the third.

Pavel Datsyuk, who was making his season debut after recovering from a shoulder injury, scored with 8:09 remaining, but the goal was disallowed when referee Greg Kimmerly deemed that Justin Abdelkader had a skate in the crease.

“I saw Abby go to the net. I thought it was a heck of a play,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Abby ends up with his foot in the paint but (Montreal goalie Carey) Price definitely initiates contact. He’s trying to follow Datsyuk. What are you going to do? You’re supposed to allow the goalie to play. He initiated the contact himself but he still initiated the contact.”

Howard made several big saves against the Canadiens, gloving a first-period shot by center Manny Malhotra, stopping Galchenyuk twice in the second period, including a nice arm save from close range, and baffling P.A. Parenteau with a pad save late in the middle frame.

Howard was nothing short of spectacular, even stopping his own teammate from beating him. Datsyuk was defending the slot when Brendan Gallagher wheeled from the right wall and sailed a shot across the slot where it ricocheted off the Red Wings’ star center. Howard wasn’t fooled, though, snagging the puck out of the air with 17:04 left in regulation.

Galchenyuk’s wrap-around goal with 3:09 left in regulation spoiled Howard’s outstanding performance and led to the extra period.

Detroit has benefited from outstanding goaltending this season. They only have one regulation loss and Howard and Jonas Gustavsson combined on a scoreless streak that lasted 141:20. Gustavsson earned his first shutout as a Wing in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Toronto.

Before Galchenyuk’s even-strength goal, the last goal allowed by the Red Wings was to Toronto’s Mike Santorelli at 21 seconds of the third period last Friday at Air Canada Centre.

The Red Wings took a 1-0 lead into the second intermission Tuesday when Henrik Zetterberg fired a flutterball of a shot that skipped past Price, bounced off the crossbar and dropped behind the goal line.

But the Canadiens were resilient in the third, stepping up the pressure in the Red Wings’ end and outshooting Detroit, 13-5, in the period.

“I thought in the third we backed off a little bit too much,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Didn’t really go after them the way we’d like to. But in saying that, Howie’s playing strong in front of the net and it felt like we were in good shape.”

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