The Montreal Canadiens lost their third straight road game, falling to 1-3-0 on a short trip away from the Bell Centre.
It was probably the best effort of the four game trip by the Habs, but it was not nearly enough as they fell 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings. The win puts Detroit within shouting distance of the Canadiens in the standings. Montreal could fall out of the precious top three seeds in the Atlantic Division, as the Toronto Maple Leafs are currently tied with 59 points.
The Canadiens had a stranglehold on a playoff berth not long ago, but an inconsistent 8-10-2 showing in their past 20 games has them falling back into the playoff bubble pack.
Not to make too many excuses for last night’s loss, but the Habs played well for the most part. They fell behind 1-0 on a Red Wings underserved two man advantage. Alexei Emelin was sent to the box for one of the weakest boarding calls I have seen in months. The fact it put the Canadiens down 5 on 3 made the call all the more preposterous.
Anyway, the Wings took full advantage and Henrik Zetterberg hammered home a one timer to give Detroit the lead. The Habs were the better team through the opening 20 minutes, but Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (yes that one) made big saves when called upon to keep the Habs scoreless.
Riley Sheahan blasted one over Carey Price’s shoulder, perhaps one Price would like to have another try at, but he rebounded quickly, making a pair of fantastic saves to keep the Canadiens alive.
Brendan Gallagher pulled the Habs within one when he surprised everyone in attendance midway through the second by becoming the first Canadiens player to go anywhere near the Wings crease. He reeled in a David Desharnais pass and drove straight to the Wings net and banged in one of the ugliest goals you will ever see. It was amazing.
The happiness was short lived as the Canadiens blew their defensive zone coverage and allowed Niklas Kronwall to hang out in the slot all alone. When he took a pass from Gustav Nyquist, who everyone in a Habs sweater was watching, he roofed a wrister from in close and gave the Wings a lead they would refuse to give back.
The Canadiens had a few chances in the third to narrow the gap, but when you only have one line sustaining any form of pressure, it is difficult to generate much offense.
The Canadiens fall to 27-19-5 on the year, and return home tonight to face the Washington Capitals.