The Montreal Canadiens continued their recent hot streak of late, by outlasting the Detroit Red Wings in a wild third period last night, and holding on for a 5-4 victory.
The Habs jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on a pair of goals from Tomas Plekanec. P.K. Subban set up the Czech center for his 19th goal of the season less than five minutes into the game, and helped him reach number 20 on a 3 on 2 rush late in the opening frame. This is the sixth time Plekanec has scored 20 goals in a season with the Montreal Canadiens.
Riley Sheahan responded for the Wings early in the second when he hammered a puck over the shoulder of Carey Price. Newly acquired Thomas Vanek helped restore the Habs two goal lead when he fought off Niklas Kronwall and centered a puck for David Desharnais who lifted it into the top corner, and sent Montreal to the second intermission with a 3-1 advantage.
Tomas Tatar quickly nixed any hope of a Habs runaway by scoring a pair of goals just over three minutes apart to tie the game less than five minutes into the third. Max Pacioretty would gain the lead back for the Canadiens when he sniped his 33rd of the season, tying his career high set back in 2011-12.
With less than nine minutes to play Vanek would tip in an Andrei Markov point shot off a draw in the Wings end, and give the Habs the lead for good. It was Vanek’s third point of the night and his ninth point in the last nine games.
Just 21 seconds later, Johan Franzen stormed into the Habs zone and fired a wrister past Price to pull the Wings within one. It was as close as Detroit would come to tying the game, as the Canadiens held on to win 5-4.
It was the fourth straight win for Montreal, who have now won seven of their past eight games and are heating up down the stretch of the regular season.
The Canadiens now sit second in the Atlantic Division with 91 points and eight games to play. The Tampa Bay Lightning sit two points back with 89 but have ten games to play, two more than the Habs.
The Habs have all but sewn up a playoff berth already, now it is just a race to the finish with the Lightning for home ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.