Sports About Last Night: Habs win 6-3 with front office in flux
Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins: Five things you should know
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Bruins game at TD Garden Sunday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN-690 Radio, 98.5 FM): The matchup: This is the second half of a back-to-back series for both teams but the Bruins will be a bit more rested because they played in New Jersey Saturday and cruised to a 5-2 win. The Canadiens were in Detroit, where they lost 3-2 in overtime to the Red Wings. They also lost goaltender Jake Allen after Detroit’s Dylan Larkin was pushed into the crease late in the first period. The Canadiens have earned points in their last three games with a win and two overtime losses.
It was a busy night both on and off the ice for the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
While Jake Allen made 47 saves in a 6-3 win for his club over the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, the Habs announced assistant general manager Scott Mellanby had resigned from his post.
The Canadiens may not have planned to make such an announcement during the middle of a game, but they were given little choice: rumours about the Canadiens talking to former New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton were making the rounds, signalling management changes are afoot. Here’s what the insiders were saying on Twitter:
Game Day Notebook: GM's positive COVID test is more bad news for Habs
Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme spoke with Marc Bergevin on Saturday morning and said the team’s GM was “feeling pretty good” a day after testing positive for COVID-19. Ducharme wasn’t on the ice for his team’s optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard but the assistant coaches who were on the ice were back to wearing masks. “I didn’t know our coaches were wearing masks,” Ducharme said when the masks were mentioned to him. “We’re going back to that? I didn’t know.” For the next 10 days, the Canadiens players and staff will be tested daily for COVID-19.
Very intriguing situation in Montreal. We know Scott Mellanby is out. He resigned. We know there’s interest in Jeff Gorton. Geoff Molson is running point on this and it’s believed, Gorton is targeted for a very substantial hockey operations position.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger)
Hearing that Scott Mellanby had extensive talks with Habs owner Geoff Molson at first about becoming GM, then that changed to perhaps becoming president of hockey operations. But he was told yesterday he was out of the running. So he resigned today.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun)
Sources say Marc Bergevin was hurt by the news/rumours on Gorton & Mellanby. He had previously recommended Mellanby to replace him but was kept in the dark on any ongoing talks/négociations. Bergevin was made aware of the rumours through the media. He remains the GM as we speak.
Jack Todd: Habs need to make some moves during Olympic break, if not before
It says a lot about your hockey team when it can manage to turn a 5-0 laugher into a nail-biter in the span of a single period. It tells you something when your GM is sick with COVID , yet he’s taking the time to do telephone interviews with handpicked journalists to give his view of things. It tells you something when you have a young talent who may be the puck-moving defenceman your team so desperately needs and he’s playing very well in a brief call-up but is still benched for a minor mistake, jeopardizing his long-term development for the coach’s short-term security.— Louis Jean (@LouisJeanTVAS)
There was still a game to be played, and it was an exciting one. Don’t let the score fool you: the Canadiens scored three empty-netters to skew what was in reality a much closer game. Chris Wideman was scratched with an upper body injury, bringing Michael Pezzetta back to the lineup. Casey DeSmith got a rare start in goal in place of Tristan Jarry for Pittsburgh.
The game was scoreless after the first period. After allowing a shorthanded goal during a four-minute power play against the Sabres on Friday, the Habs once again received a four-minute man-advantage after Dominik Simon drew blood from a high-stick on Brendan Gallagher. They didn’t score, but they didn’t allow a shorty.
Josh Anderson was a factor with his speed and physical play in the first, which continued throughout the night. In the second, the Habs finally broke the scoreless tie at 15:34 when Jonathan Drouin on a breakaway slipped a backhand under DeSmith.
What the Puck: Return of Nordiques might light fire under Canadiens
Many are grumbling that Premier François Legault has more pressing issues to worry about than the amount of Quebec players in the National Hockey League and the potential return of the Quebec Nordiques. I actually like the fact that he has some big ideas about hockey. There is indeed something wrong with a world in which Quebec produces fewer hockey stars than in the past and it would be a good thing for all Quebecers if the province could more easily develop the next Guy Lafleur. But the main reason I loved Legault’s hockey announcement is because he says he is working to help bring the Nords back.
JO ????— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL)
Soon after, Simon nearly tied the game when his shot squeezed through Allen and dribbled towards the net, but Mattias Norlinder was able to intercept the puck as it neared the goal line.
Mattias N????-rlinder!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL)
The Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Evan Rodrigues line was dominant all night, placing 26 shots between the three of them. Rodrigues was the one to tie the game on the power play early in the third. Kristopher Letang kept the puck in the zone, allowing Crosby to connect with Rodrigues on a one-touch pass. The 1-1 equalizer was one of Rodrigues’ 12 shots on the night.
Evan Rodrigues goes bar down on the power play ????— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins)
The Habs regained the lead 32 seconds later. Anderson battled his way through two defenders with the puck before a pinching Sami Niku found Christian Dvorak wide open in front. Dvorak’s goal made it 2-1.
What the Puck: Canadiens' change needs to start with a new head coach
Canadiens management is treating the team’s fans with utter contempt. The Habs are one of the worst teams in the NHL. They’re 30th in the 32-team league, but it’s not even simply the points. I had the misfortune of watching the 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and the Habs did a good impersonation of a team that didn’t even want to win the game. When almost every player on the team sucks eggs, which was the case in Washington, there is something very wrong in that room. Yet general manager Marc Bergevin said a few days ago they’re staying the course, that no radical changes are coming.
Quelle réplique! ????
Quick reply!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL)
The Penguins nearly capped off the wild sequence with another tying goal, only this time Allen robbed Rodrigues off the draw with a glove save.
JAAAAAAKE ????????— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL)
The Habs then took a 3-1 lead. Norlinder sent a puck on net with three Habs waiting in front for a rebound. After bouncing around en route, the puck landed on Lehkonen’s stick and then the back of the net, giving the Finn his third goal in four games. Norlinder got his first NHL point.
Un troisième but en quatre matchs pour Lehkonen!
Third goal in four games for Lehkonen!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL)
The Penguins didn’t quit with time winding down. Anderson continued his gutsy display with a key shot block. After the Habs failed to clear, Jeff Carter reduced Montreal’s lead to 3-2 with DeSmith pulled.
Jeff Carter gets one back for Pittsburgh late in the third with the empty net!— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365)
After Anderson scored an insurance marker in an empty net, the Penguins returned volley, this time Crosby on a one-timer. It was 4-3 Habs.
Josh Anderson fait 4-2 dans un filet désert!
Josh Anderson makes it 4-2 with an empty-netter!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL)
That was as close as the Penguins got. Anderson scored another empty netter (awarded automatically after Letang tripped him on a break) and Toffoli got one of his own for a 6-3 final score. It’s not trading Mike Cammalleri in the middle of a game bad, but having to release a statement about a resignation in the front office was an unfortunate distraction on a night where the Canadiens won. Allen and Anderson were integral in getting Montreal to come out on top.
The Liveblog commenters got two soap operas for the price of one on Saturday. How fun is that after the season they’ve endured?
About Last Night: Habs still searching for the first win of the Jeff Gorton era .
I’m going to talk about the game, I promise, but first I want to talk about something personal. Way back in, I want to say 2008, I was working on finishing up university when I discovered this website called HI/O that was building a community of Habs fans. Before long, Mike Boone’s liveblog and About Last Night were like caffeine straight to the veins of this early-20’s Canadiens-crazed political science student. After a year of screaming about how awful the Scott Gomez trade was, I started my own little blog, based on the encouragement of Boone himself.