Montreal Canadiens: Another Home Game, Another Third Period Lead, Another Loss

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 27: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 27: Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the New York Rangers and continued their trend of being the most gracious of NHL hosts this season.

The Montreal Canadiens hosted the New York Rangers last night at the Bell Centre looking to slow down one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League. The Rangers were not supposed to be this good this soon after sending out a letter to fans just two years ago to explain why they are selling veteran players and going with a youth movement.

However, they entered last night’s game after winning eight of their last ten and are inching closer and closer to gaining a playoff spot in the tight Metropolitan Division. They are getting tremendous production from Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad and had been getting great goaltending from Igor Shesterkin but he was recently injured in a car accident.

Alexander Georgiev took over in goal and the Habs got to him early. Max Domi beat him when he tried to feather a pass across to Tomas Tatar but it bounced off a Rangers defender and ended up in the net. Domi had received a terrific pass from Jeff Petry who got the puck from Tatar. It was a connection of the three players that heard their names the most in the rumour mill leading up to Monday’s trade deadline and were all relieved to not be moved.

That goal came just three minutes into the opening period but it stood as the only goal in the first frame. The score remained 1-0 Habs until late in the second period. Brendan Gallagher sprung Tatar for a breakaway and he made several nifty moves to get Georgiev out of position before depositing the puck into the goal.

This gave the Habs a 2-0 lead late in the second period. The Rangers had very little going for them at this point and if were not for a couple of big saves from Georgiev it could have been three or four nothing.

Then, with just under 1:30 to play an innocent looking play deep in the Habs zone saw Adam Fox gather the puck in the corner. He quickly fired a pass out front that was redirected into the Habs net and the Rangers had life going into the third period,

Boy, did they even have life. Mika Zibanejad sniped one off a feed from Artemi Panarin to tie the game with less than nine minutes to go. Just over a minute later, Fox scored on a long wrist shot that somehow eluded Carey Price on the short side. Funny how the 32 year old goaltender who has started 17 of the team’s last 18 games is developing a penchant for allowing weak goals in the third period.

Three minutes later, Ryan Strome tipped a point shot by Tony DeAngelo and the Rangers had a two goal lead with less than five minutes to play. Another Strome goal, this time into an empty net would make the final score 5-2 Rangers.

The Habs record at the Bell Centre now drops to 13-16-6 which is embarrassingly second worst in the entire league, only better than the putrid Detroit Red Wings. They blew another third period lead which is becoming a constant theme. Price has clearly not been at his best lately, and you have to wonder if his strenuous workload has finally caught up to him. He leads the league in starts, shots against and minutes played and continues to allow weak third period goals.

It is too late to save this season as the Canadiens are now nine points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Habs need to make it a priority to get a legitimate backup goaltender for Price next season.