In the Habs Room: Montreal hangs on for win despite first-period outburst – Montreal Gazette

In the Habs\ Room: Montreal hangs on for win despite first-period outburst - Montreal Gazette
Weber scores twice as Habs beat Kings
It took a series of big saves from Carey Price to seal the deal during the second and third period drought.

Any time you pick up two points you have to be happy, but it would be a mistake to credit the Canadiens with a solid performance in their 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Tomas Tatar, who is still tied for the team lead in points but has had some penalty issues this season, drops from the first line to the third, while Jonathan Drouin (one of the three players at the top with 13 points) takes his position. Its a move that the team has tried to make work in the past, and now that Drouin is playing more to his capability, the hope is that the winger can find success on the top trio.

The Habs were outstanding in the first period as they grabbed a 3-0 lead on the strength of two power-play goals by Shea Weber, who has scored 101 career goals with the man-advantage.

Ryan Poehling is no longer centring the third line as he had the past two games. Nick Suzuki takes that role, and has Tatar and Artturi Lehkonen for linemates. The Suzuki-Lehkonen duo did create a goal last Saturday, so perhaps theyve got something they can develop together.

But the Canadiens failed to press their advantage over the second and third periods and they were hanging on at the end. It took a series of big saves from Carey Price to seal the win. Weber scored goals on the first two Montreal power plays, but the Canadiens were unable to score on their last four advantages. Part of the problem mIght have been related to Weber’s first-period success as his teammates tried to set him up a for a hat-trick.

On defence, Brett Kulak takes Mikey Reillys spot, getting back in the lineup for the first time in over two weeks. After going with a beefed-up top pair of Ben Chiarot and Shea Weber versus the Bruins, it will be a second straight game with Victor Mete back on the main duo.

Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes a save against the Los Angeles Kings at the Bell Centre in Montreal onSaturday, Nov. 9, 2019. Eric Bolte / USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings, who currently occupy the 30th spot in the standings, are a good team to experiment against, and Julien has really tinkered with his alignment this morning.

There was also the matter of players getting to know each other. Claude Julien tried to inject some jump into his offence by juggling his four lines. And those new lines didn’t stay together a lot in the first two periods because there were a lot of power plays and penalty-kill situations.

Canadiens lines at morning skate are a bit goofy:Drouin-Danault-GallagherByron-Domi-ArmiaTatar-Suzuki-LehkonenPoehling-Thompson-CousinsMete-WeberChiarot-PetryKulak-Fleury

“We didn’t play (together) a lot … maybe more in the third,” said Jonathan Drouin, who was on the nominal No. 1 line with Phil Danault and Brendan Gallagher. “But in the first two periods, we just played a couple of shifts, a couple of face-offs. There’s some stuff we could work on, but for the first game it’s pretty good.”

Carey Price gets the start at home on a Saturday night. He will probably be hoping for less work than he had versus the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

Weber was the centre of attention on this night, not because he scored twice, but because of the way he scored his first goal. His initial shot was blocked, but the puck flew into the air and Weber drove it home on a half-volley worthy of top-level cricket batsman.

“I can’r remember a shot like that,” Weber said. “That was a weird one waiting for it to come down. I got lucky.”

Bounce back for Tatar: Look for a rebound from Tomas Tatar after a subpar game in Philadelphia. Tatar was bounced from the top line after taking two penalties in the early going and contributing little to the offence, but Claude Julien said the demotion was temporary. Tatar has 13 points and shares the team scoring lead with linemate Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin. Max Domi has four goals and seven assists in 15 games against the Kings, while Shea Weber — whose third goal of the season sent the Flyers game into overtime — has eight goals and 15 assists in 38 games.

“I’ve seen a lot of good bounces, but I’ve never seen a goal scored in that fashion, but that was a good shot,” Price said.

The matchup: The Canadiens return home after salvaging a point Thursday in a 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia. Claude Julien said his team didn’t have its legs against the Flyers, but that shouldn’t be an excuse after the players enjoyed a day off Friday. It was also a day off for the Kings, who are wrapping up a three-game Eastern Canada swing. The Kings (5-10-1), who have the worst record in the Western Conference, lost to Toronto 3-1 on Tuesday, but managed to secure a point Thursday when they lost to Ottawa 3-2 in overtime.

Weber has three goals in the last two games and six for the season. His 13 points put him among the team points leaders and he’s among the top 10 defence scorers in the league.

The goaltenders: Carey Price has been hot and cold this season, but he was the main reason why the Canadiens reached overtime in Philadelphia. The Flyers outshot the Canadiens 43-24. Price made at least three saves on breakaways and stopped Carsen Twarynski on a penalty shot. The Kings give up 3.94 goals a game to rank 30th in the NHL. They split the work between Jack Campbell and Jonathan Quick and neither has been good. Campbell has a 3.11 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage, while Quick has a 4.40 GAA and an .859 SP.

‘I’m not surprised because when he get his opportunities, he makes the most of them,” Price said.

Weber had a busy night. He led the Canadiens with 25 minutes of ice time, put seven shots on goal, had three shots blocked and had three others go wide.

The other guys:  Anze Kopitar is the Kings’ leading scorer with four goals and 15 points, and he has 14 points in 17 games against Montreal.  Tyler Toffoli has 10 points in 12 games against the Canadiens. The player with the most points against Montreal is Ilya Kovalchuk, who signed with L.A. last season after six seasons in the KHL. The 36-year-old has 13 goals and 26 assists. He had 16 goals and 34 points last season, but was a minus-26. This season, he has three goals and six assists and is minus-10.

“Any team that’s down is going to apply pressure, but I think their goaltender played well,” Price said. ” We had opportunities to seal it, but (Jonathan Quick) played really well.”

Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Kings game Saturday at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CITY, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).

“Even though we didn’t score, I thought the power play generated some good chances (in the second period),” Weber said. “It was good for us in the first and it  stood up.”

Canadiens Tomas Tatar celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins in Montreal on Nov. 5, 2019. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

The Canadiens’ other goal was scored by 34-year-old Nate Thompson, whose work on the fourth line and as a penalty killer has been impressive.

“The way he finished last season, we said we have to get this guy back, this is a guy we could use,” Julien said. “He brings experience on the ice but, off the ice, he’s a leader in the room. You can’t find any negatives in his game because he’s played above and beyond what we expected.”

7h ago Weber scores twice as Habs beat Kings Defenceman Shea Weber scored two power-play goals as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Saturday. Nate Thompson also scored for the Canadiens (9-5-3). Carey Price made 31 saves. The Canadian Press

Weber scored two power-play goals in the first period and forward Nate Thompson added another as the Montreal Canadiens held on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Saturday.

“We know we havent been good enough here in the last little while,” Weber said. “We got to take a look in the mirror and weve all got to be better. I thought tonight we had a much better start and obviously you saw what a start can do.”

The victory comes after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night, which forced Montreal coach Claude Julien to shake up the lines and defensive pairings before Saturdays game.

The victory was Montreals fifth in its last seven games, while the Kings have one win in their last eight.

“We had a good second, we had a good third,” Kopitar said. “Weve talked about this enough so far. I mean, its been 16 games in. You cant play 40 minutes, or 45, or 55. You got to fight for the full 60.”

Weber opened the scoring near the midway point of the first period. The captain fired a shot from the top of the face-off circle that hit defenceman Matt Roy. As the puck landed back towards Weber, he blasted the puck past Quick for a goal.

“That was a weird one, definitely,” Weber said. “Just waiting for it to come back down. Got lucky on the timing.”

Thompson made it 2-0 for the home team 15 seconds later, scoring his first goal of the season and his first goal against his former team. Thompson joined the Habs from the Kings via trade during the 2018-19 season.

Kopitar scored his teams first of the night at 2:41 of the second period. It was the Kings lone power-play goal on three chances on the night. The Kings would draw within one goal with 6:56 left to play in the third thanks to Lizottes first NHL goal.

“Ive been dreaming about that one for a while,” Lizotte said. “Ive had some good chances (that) havent gone my way but it really feels good to get that one,”

“It was an incredible save,” Kings head coach Todd McLellan said. “Having been out west for my whole career, Ive seen that many times.”