MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens fought back from an early 3-0 deficit, but could not make up for the bad start, falling to the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in overtime on Saturday.
Jake Walman played the overtime hero, firing home a slapshot from the left circle 54 seconds into the extra period.
“We had a lot of guys that weren’t ready, it happens. It’s really difficult to get going in this league when you don’t start right and shoot yourself in the foot,” said Canadiens head coach Martin St Louis.
“Not having your legs ready or being a bit out of rhythm is one thing, but lots of turnovers (hurt us the most), we were starting their offence for them.”
Joe Veleno, Christian Fischer, Daniel Sprong and Alex DeBrincat also scored for Detroit (13-7-3), while Justin Barron, Joel Armia, Nick Suzuki and Gustav Lindstrom found the back of the net for Montreal (10-11-3).
The Red Wings controlled the tempo early, enjoying long stints of possession in the offensive zone and preventing Montreal from registering a shot in the first 10 minutes.
The opening goal was inevitable, arriving seven minutes in as Detroit forced another turnover off the forecheck. A shot from the point was deflected before a big rebound gave Montreal-born Veleno a wide-open net.
“We just seemed to keep turning the puck over and making dumb mistakes at our blue line and their blue line. When you give a whole 20 minutes away, it’s hard to win,” said Suzuki. “We can’t keep digging ourselves holes. We had a couple good chances, but the goalies made a couple good saves and there were some mishandles.”
Montreal’s yearlong power play struggles would continue. After turning the puck over at the blue line, Michael Rasmussen was sprung on a breakaway with Fischer there to clean up the rebound when he was stopped.
Detroit added a third with less than a minute to play. During a two-on-one rush, Sprong opted to shoot, beating Jake Allen on the blocker side. Montreal would get one back with six seconds left in the period when Barron fired home a rebound from the slot.
Less than five minutes into the start of the second period, it was Montreal’s turn to score on the penalty kill. After breaking into a two-on-one, Armia went for it himself and sent a shot over Ville Husso’s glove.
DeBrincat would immediately nullify that progress, restoring the Red Wings’ two-goal lead less than a minute later from a tight angle.
Montreal got one back to start the third period when Suzuki picked the top corner while on the power play. This was the Canadiens first goal with the man advantage in 28 attempts, since their Nov. 12 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
Montreal continued to put the pressure on late in the third period and found an equalizer from close range through Lindstrom, setting up the overtime.
“It’s hard to win in this league and it’s even harder to win on the road, so I love that we got two full points. I didn’t hate (the third period), but we had a lot of looks and could’ve easily got our fifth goal and iced the game,” said Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde.
“A little fatigue crept into our game, probably some mistakes that were a little self-inflicted. Credit to them, they were pushing hard so good on the guys to hang in there.”
Canadiens: Host the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 4.
Red Wings: Travel to Buffalo on Dec. 5 to face the Sabres.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2023.
Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press