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Sports In the Habs' Room: Another busy night for goalie Jake Allen in OT loss

08:11  05 december  2021
08:11  05 december  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Predators' Mikael Granlund (64) watches as Canadiens goalie Jake Allen blocks a shot with his mask during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Nashville. © Provided by The Gazette Predators' Mikael Granlund (64) watches as Canadiens goalie Jake Allen blocks a shot with his mask during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Nashville.

There’s no doubt the Canadiens are missing Carey Price this season.

But Jake Allen isn’t the reason the Canadiens have a 6-17-3 record following Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Predators in Nashville.

Once again, Allen didn’t get much help from his teammates as the Canadiens were outshot 44-23 by the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Allen has now faced 169 shots in his last four games — an average of 42.3 per game while posting a 1-2-1 record.

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Allen now has a 5-11-2 record this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

“He made some huge saves,” the Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki said about Allen. “In the third period, it could have got away from us, but he stepped up big and he’s been doing that all season. He played another good game.”

The Canadiens were outshot 17-2 in the third period.

The Canadiens also gave the Predators five power plays, but were able to kill them all off with help from Allen. The Canadiens went 1-for-4 on the power play.

“I thought we played pretty well,” Suzuki said. “Obviously, we got to stay out of the (penalty) box, especially against that team. They get a lot of momentum from their power play. I thought our PK did a good job and five-on-five I thought we had one of our better games lately.”

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But it wasn’t good enough and the Canadiens are now 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.

Suzuki, Christian Dvorak and Brett Kulak scored for the Canadiens. Suzuki’s fifth goal of the season came on the power play. It was his first goal in 11 games and also his first goal on the road all season.

“I think the games are all the same,” Suzuki said. “We struggled on the road and me, personally, just haven’t been producing the same on the road, so hopefully this is a good step in the right direction.”

The Canadiens have a 2-9-2 road record.

“Really tried to shoot the puck a lot today and luckily one went in,” said Suzuki, who finished the game with four shots on goal. “Definitely nice to get a goal and help out scoring on the power play and give us a boost of confidence there.”

Special teams have been one of many weaknesses for the Canadiens this season. After Saturday’s game they ranked 28th in the NHL on the power play (13.6 per cent) and 30th in penalty-killing (71.3 per cent).

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The Canadiens managed to score more than two goals Saturday night for only the eighth time in 26 games.

That’s not Allen’s fault. The goalie has battled every time he has been in net this season, but he can’t score.

The Canadiens have been decimated by injuries on defence this season and Jeff Petry was missing from the lineup Saturday night because of an upper-body injury. When the Canadiens advanced to the Stanley Cup final last season they relied heavily on their top four defencemen: Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, Petry and Joel Edmundson.

Weber hasn’t played a game all season and his career is likely over because of injuries, while Edmundson has been sidelined all season with a back injury. With Weber, Edmundson and Petry all out of the lineup Saturday night, Chiarot logged a season-high 29:26 of ice time.

Chiarot is in the final season of his three-year, US$10.5-million contract and there’s a very good chance he will be moved before the NHL trade deadline on March 21 as Jeff Gorton, the Canadiens’ new executive vice-president of hockey operations, looks to rebuild the team.

About Last Night: Habs win 6-3 with front office in flux

  About Last Night: Habs win 6-3 with front office in flux 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: Very intriguing situation in Montreal.

Gorton claimed defenceman Kale Clague off waivers Saturday from the Los Angeles Kings to give the team and Allen some help on the blue line.

Despite the defensive struggles, Allen has battled every game he’s played this season and Saturday night was no exception.

“I’ve known him since junior and he’s always been like that,” Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme, who was an assistant coach under Pascal Vincent when Allen was with the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL in 2008-09, said Saturday morning. “He’s a guy that comes in every day, he’s a real pro. Does everything that he needs to do to be ready. Works hard, he’s paying attention to details, working with (goalie coach Éric Raymond) at the same time. Always find ways to get better and prepare himself.”

Goaltending has not been the Canadiens’ biggest problem this season.

It’s hard for any team to win when it struggles to score three goals in a game.

scowan@postmedia.com

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