Plekanec scores late as Canadiens beat Canucks
MONTREAL (AP) — After a season-high seven-game road swing, the Vancouver Canucks are happy to be finally going back home.
Vancouver seemed to run out of gas at the end of a two-week road trip that culminated with a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. The Canucks finished their trip 3-3-1 despite winning three of the first four games.
“We’re definitely excited,” said goalie Ryan Miller, who made 21 saves against the Canadiens. “A lot of guys are ready to get home. After 14 days, it’s just time. We’ll regroup.”
Tomas Plekanec scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:16 remaining and Max Paciorrety added an empty-netter with 1 second left to lead Montreal. Brendan Gallagher scored in the second period for the Canadiens.
After starting the road trip with wins in Columbus, Washington and Pittsburgh — and a loss in Detroit — Vancouver has been beaten by three Canadian teams. The Canucks lost 5-2 at Toronto last Saturday, and then squandered a three-goal lead at Ottawa on Sunday — ultimately losing in overtime.
“If you can go .500 on the road, you have a chance of getting in the playoffs,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “But we had a chance to do better than that. We had what we needed. I didn’t think we played badly in any of the games.”
Added Alexandre Burrows: “We’ll take the .500 road trip and we’ll go back home and get better and keep improving. It would have been nice to get more, but if you looked at the two-week road trip early in the year and said (we would go) .500, I think we would have taken it. We got through it.”
Canadiens goalie Carey Price finished with 15 saves.
Montreal had several chances to put the game away early on, but couldn’t capitalize. With a two-man advantage to start the second period, Alex Galchenyuk had a chance to put his team ahead after a goal-mouth scramble, but he fired the puck wide. Then, Pacioretty hit the post to Miller’s left near the end of the same period. Minutes later, youngster Sven Andrighetto failed to make contact with a loose puck on the doorstep.
“We all knew we needed to do more offensively,” Gallagher said. “We generated a lot of chances. Every line contributed.”
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien did some substantial line shuffling after Montreal’s loss at Dallas on Saturday.
Galchenyuk played center with Pacioretty and Gallagher on the first line, while David Desharnais played with Michael Bournival on the second. Andrighetto joined Plekanec and Jiri Sekac on the third.
The new-look Canadiens finally broke the 1-1 deadlock with less than five minutes remaining in the game when Plekanec tipped a beautiful pass from Andrighetto into the roof of the net.
“It was a nice play by Andrighetto,” Plekanec said. “One of the defensemen got too close to him so he had room to make that play to me and I just tried to lift it up because I was tight to the net and got lucky.”
The victory ended Montreal’s three-game skid as the Canadiens improved to 15-1-1 when tied or leading after two periods.
Before the game, the Canadiens honored the late Jean Beliveau with a video tribute, moment of silence, and lengthy standing ovation. The Canadiens’ great passed away last Tuesday at the age of 83. Beliveau’s wife, his daughter and his granddaughters were in attendance.
After going scoreless in the first period for the 22nd time this season, Montreal broke through in the second when Gallagher’s seemingly harmless shot from the faceoff circle beat Miller glove-side into the top corner of the net at 6:56.
Dorsett beat Price to tie the score exactly 5 minutes later with Vancouver’s fourth short-handed goal of the season.
Notes: Canadiens C Lars Eller missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... Montreal D Mike Weaver, who suffered a concussion against the Stars on Saturday, was also out of the lineup. ... Nathan Beaulieu, recalled from Hamilton on Monday, dressed for Montreal for the first time in three weeks. ... The Canadiens have scored a league-low nine first-period goals this year. ... The Canucks have not scored a power-play goal in their last four games (0-for-13).