By @SKubus –
DETROIT – The Red Wings could not solve the enigma known as Carey Price in front of a raucous Joe Louis Arena crowd Monday night.
Detroit fell to 31-14-10 on the season with a 2-0 loss to the Eastern Conference leader Montreal Canadiens, as Price stopped all 25 shots he faced for the shutout. Tomas Plekanec broke a tight, scoreless game with just 2:30 remaining in the contest, and former University of Michigan standout Max Pacioretty added an empty-netter.
“There wasn’t much room for either team, it was hard to get to the net for both teams, there wasn’t a lot of quality chances, by either team,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s kind of what you’ve got coming up; it was a check-fest.”
Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard turned aside 27 of 28 between the pipes for Detroit in his second start since returning from injury.
“Obviously, he was really good tonight and there was two good goaltenders going up against each other,” Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said. “Price is the best goalie in the league, the way he plays the puck, and Howie did a great job I thought and, in the end, it was just that one goal.”
Howard himself said he was dialed in and gave top marks to his counterpart at the other end.
“Like I said the other night, halfway through the game I started to feel more and more at-home out there. It transferred over tonight, and hopefully it transfers farther into Chicago.”
Dueling chants of “Let’s go Red Wings” and “Go Habs Go” fueled the crowd’s energy throughout the evening to produce a playoff-like atmosphere in the building.
“It definitely felt like a playoff,” Howard said. “There was no room, it was tough to get to both nets and when it got to the nets, both guys were there to make the save. It was a lot of fun.”
An issue with the glass required a fix and brief delay in the game 6:44 into the opening period, but both teams continued on to a scoreless period. In fact, they continued on to a scoreless second period, as well.
When two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams meet, Nyquist said this was the exact type of game the team expected.
“I thought we took care of the puck, and they did a great job, as well. I thought it was a real even game, it was a fun game to play, not so fun to lose.”
It took 57:30 of 60 minutes, but Plekanec finally beat Howard, capitalizing on an incredible bump pass by Habs forward Dale Weise. Weise’s backhand pass from along the boards to the middle gave Plekanec ample time to wind up in the middle of the ice and blast a shot past Howard.
Pacioretty added an empty netter with 9.4 seconds to play to cap off the Habs’ victory.
Detroit embarks on a six-game road trip out west against some of the NHL’s best: Chicago, Dallas, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Nashville. That’s no easy task, but the team knows the opportunity that lies ahead.
“We’ve been playing on the road, so we’ve just got to get back to that,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Now we’re in the Eastern Conference, you kind of look forward to go to the west coast and play those games. Obviously, we’ve got Chicago here before that, and then we head out west.”