The Montreal Canadiens finally returned from their 17 day Olympic break to host their newest Atlantic Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings. It took them a long time to show up, but they were able to score a late goal and steal a point before losing the game in overtime.
The Habs came out of the gate with some jump, but were denied by Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard. Detroit kept the Habs off the board until veteran Todd Bertuzzi found the back of the net to open the scoring.
The Wings were enjoying a power play thanks to a questionable roughing penalty to P.K. Subban, but they were able to take advantage and take a 1-0 lead. Rugged winger Johan Franzen made a nifty pass from behind the Habs goal, and Bertuzzi made no mistake burying it behind Peter Budaj.
The second period was a dreadful twenty minutes from the Canadiens. It took them nearly thirteen minutes of hockey before they registered a shot on goal, and even then it was a dribbler that was fetched rather easily by Howard. The Habs would end the period with just two shots on net, while allowing nine shots for Budaj to stop.
Montreal was able to apply some pressure in the third period, and it appeared Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher tied things up midway though the final frame. Gallagher drove to the net like he is known to do, and a mad scramble ensued in the Red Wings crease. Their efforts resulted in a Pacioretty chip shot hitting the outside of the net just behind the post and a goal light coming on behind the net, but the Habs remained scoreless.
Brian Gionta tied the game with 28 seconds remaining on his third great chance with the goaltender pulled for an extra attacker. Howard stopped a hard Subban shot from the point and then robbed Gionta on the rebound with his toe. Gionta gathered the rebound from behind him and slid it from a tough angle behind Howard but it hit the outside of the post and went behind the net.
Daniel Briere and Andrei Markov beat Selke Trophy winner Pavel Datsyuk in a battle for the loose puck behind the net, and Briere fed it back out front to Gionta who roofed the puck on his backhand over the blocker of the Wings goaltender.
Tomas Tatar and Subban took coincidental minor penalties in overtime that led to two minutes of 3 on 3 action. The open ice led to plenty of chances but things were not decided until Gustav Nyquist scored on a rebound with just 27 seconds to go in extra time.
Peter Budaj was solid in net once again for the Habs, filling in for an injured Carey Price. Price aggravated a lower body injury at practice this morning and is day to day. Budaj’s record moves to 6-4-2, as he stopped 28 of 30 shots and held the Habs in the game when they struggled to find their legs.
The Canadiens next game is tomorrow night as they head to Pittsburgh to take on the Eastern Conference leading Penguins.