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Canadiens Postgame

Canadiens: Hutson Earns First Point In Exciting Loss To Detroit



Montreal Canadiens Lane Hutson

The Montreal Canadiens were in Detroit on Monday night to face the Red Wings in the penultimate game of the season.

There were important Draft Lottery implications in play for the Canadiens, but the story of the night was top prospect Lane Hutson’s NHL debut. Simply put, it was a very good start to what will hopefully become a long and successful NHL career.

In the end, the Red Wings emerged with a 5-4 win in overtime, keeping their playoff hopes alive in the process.

Let’s dive into those Hutson highlights! Err, Habs highlights.

Shooting Lane

Hutson’s first NHL shift was fairly mundane, but that did not stop him from making the right play. He displayed some good skating, and while he only touched the puck once, it was a quick, efficient pass in the neutral zone that kept the puck out of his own zone.

After wetting his toes in the chilly waters of professional hockey, Hutson ramped it up a few notches.

He earned his first NHL point by walking the blueline and then taking advantage of a skating lane(!) that allowed him to drive the net. His quick shot led to a second-chance scoring opportunity for Brendan Gallagher, who scored his 14th goal of the year shortly thereafter.

Of course, Monday is all about Hutson’s NHL debut, but we do have to give full marks to Gallagher. Not only did he score a difficult goal, but he also told Hutson to skate ahead of him on the high-five parade in front of the Canadiens bench.

It may not seem like a significant gesture, but Gallagher ensured all the attention was put on the player making his NHL debut, a savvy veteran move on his part.

Justin Barron quickly doubled the Canadiens’ lead by scoring his seventh goal of the year. It was assisted by Josh Anderson, who enjoyed one of his best games of the season, as well as Jake Evans, who has done a good job producing down the stretch.

It must be said that Barron’s AHL assignment has worked wonders for the young man’s confidence. J.T. Compher then responded to the goal by opening the scoring for the Red Wings and reducing the Habs’ lead to just one goal.

That’s when Johnathan Kovacevic, Evans, and Rafael Harvey-Pinard put together the type of play that will surely put a smile on head coach Martin St-Louis’ face.

Kovacevic deserves credit for his great breakout pass, and Harvey-Pinard did a good job finishing the play, but it should be noted Evans presented his defenceman with a perfect outlet option, which is a necessary step for any controlled breakout.

Veteran Stakes

Gallagher would go on to score his 15th goal of the year, yet more evidence that the rumours of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

We have to consider Gallagher has had more work done on his hand than Darth Vader, which will obviously mitigate some of the finesse options while he has the puck.

But he’s working hard to compensate for the lack of dexterity. Whenever he’s on the ice, the Habs tend to have a greater share of the shots and scoring chances, which means he’s helping his team win, full stop.

Deciding Play

The Red Wings tied the game late in the third period, though you’d be hard-pressed to argue they did not deserve it. The final moments of the period involved the Red Wings pressuring the Canadiens, with Samuel Montembeault facing a veritable shooting gallery.

The late goal pushed the game to overtime/shootout, where


Defensive Options

We spent half a segment on Gallagher, which means we’re well overdue to discuss Hutons’s play.

While most of the attention will be centred on his offensive prowess, we have to give him praise for adapting to various defensive situations.

He isn’t the strongest player, nor the fastest, but his cerebral approach allows him to shut down the rush, even if he’s not in an advantageous situation prior to the start of the play.

The Montreal Canadiens will be back in action on Tuesday, facing the very same Red Wings in Montreal. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm ET.

All Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted. Via Natural Stat Trick.