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Postgame Poutine: Discombobulated Habs Fall 5-2 To Coyotes

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Montreal Canadiens

In a battle of the two worst teams in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens lost their sixth straight game on Monday, falling 5-2 to the Arizona Coyotes.

The Canadiens are now 0-4-2 during this winless streak and haven’t won in regulation since a 6-3 win over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Nov. 27. They are now 1-9-3 since that loss to the Penguins.

Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz had a goal and two assists and forwards Clayton Keller and Johan Larsson each had a goal and an assist. Coyotes rookie goalie Karel Vejmelka stopped 24 of 26 shots from the Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal Canadiens forward Ryan Poehling scored his fifth goal of the season and newly acquired forward Rem Pitlick scored his first as a Hab and seventh of the season. Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin assisted on both goals.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Cayden Primeau stopped 12 of 16 shots in the first two periods before being replaced by Sam Montembeault, who stopped all six Coyotes shots in the third period.

The Habs are right back at it Tuesday as they play the Stars in Dallas in the fourth game of their current seven-game road trip.

GOLD STAR: Nick Schmaltz – As mentioned above, Schmaltz lit the lamp and added two helpers in a brilliant performance from the rugged pivot. The six-foot, 181-pound, 25-year-old Schmaltz now has two goals and eight assists in 18 games this season. Here’s the nice feed he gave Coyotes forward Travis Boyd to put the Yotes up 5:19 into the first period.

 

 

 

TABARNAK: Team Defense – After the game, yours truly asked Montreal Canadiens forward Laurent Dauphin where he felt things fell apart in the latest loss and he immediately pointed to the numerous odd-man rushes the Habs surrendered. Dauphin was absolutely correct there but not only was the neutral zone game horrid for the Canadiens but they were also a discombobulated mess in their own zone, specifically in their net-front coverage. On at least three of the five Coyotes goals, the Montreal Canadiens had at least three players standing idle as the Yotes buzzed around and fed the puck in front.

 

 

TURNING POINT: Habs Lose Goal Challenge – With the Montreal Canadiens down 3-2 and still very much in a game, they honestly had business winning through almost two periods of play, Schmaltz lit the lamp with 1:58 into the middle frame. Not so fast? The Montreal Canadiens video staff felt that Primeau was interfered with on the goal and head coach Dominique Ducharme challenged the play. The Habs ultimately lost the challenge and while they killed off the ensuing Coyotes’ powerplay, they seemed to lose any momentum they had.

 

HONORABLE MENTION: Jonathan Drouin – Drouin broke a two-game pointless streak with two assists and while the majority of the Montreal Canadiens roster looked lethargic more often than not, Drouin was constantly involved and playing determined hockey Monday. His takeaway and then subsequent feed to Pitlick for his first goal as a Hab was a perfect example of this.

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 38 – The number of assists Coyotes winger Phil Kessel has against the Montreal Canadiens in his career. That’s the most he has against any NHL team. Kessel, who also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, has 11 points (3-8-11) in his last nine games against the Habs and holds a 21-38-59 career scoring line against the Montreal Canadiens in 64 games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “There’s two ways to react and I thought too many times we got caught in the middle” – Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme on his team’s poor play in the neutral zone.

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