RECAP | Canadiens – Capitals: Habs With Stunning 61-Minute Win

Canadiens Lineup

Forward lines

Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher

Jonathan Drouin – Nick Suzuki – Joel Armia

Paul Byron – Max Domi – Ilya Kovalchuk

Nick Cousins – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal

Defence pairings

Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber

Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry

Xavier Ouellet – Christian Folin

Goaltenders

Carey Price – Charlie Lindgren

Scratches

Dale Weise, Artturi Lehkonen

Injuries

Victor Mete

Game Report

The Canadiens were beat by the worst team in the NHL on Tuesday night. And Ben Chiarot played a dreadful game with a minus-3 rating.

Two nights later the Habs beat one of the top-5 clubs in the league. Chiarot had two goals, including the game-winner and was named first star of the game.

Such is the 2019-20 Montreal Canadiens. As we have said many times, it’s been a rollercoaster.

Granted, the Capitals didn’t look like the team who is in single digits in regulation losses at the Capital One Arena. They seemed rather flummoxed by the visitor’s forecheck and use of their speed.

But full credit to the Canadiens who, without the burden of making the playoffs on their collective plate, seemed to enjoy this newly-found role of spoiler.

Shea Weber and Brendan Gallagher may not be 100 percent healthy, but there they were battling and scoring with a goal each. 

And then there was Carey Price making his 52nd start of the season on February 20th to lead the league in that category. Remember at the start of the season when Keith Kinkaid boldly predicted that he would start 30 games for Montreal? If that came to pass, 52 starts would be the sum total of Price’s regular season.

Price was solid winning his 25th game of the season, making 29 saves.

Just before puck drop, we learned that Artturi Lehkonen was a surprise, late scratch. Speculation was rampant that Lehkonen was being held out of the game pending a trade. After all, it is that time of year.

Because this was Lehkonen, a player who commits every game to play a responsible game in all areas of the ice. He is well-regarded as having the best work ethic on the team.

Following the game, even Lehkonen’s teammates were puzzled. Phillip Danault believed that the scratch was deadline-related given all of the important ways that Lehkonen contributes to the team.

“I don’t think Lehky should be scratched. He’s really important for us. He’s very good on the PK, very valuable. He’s been big for us,” said Danault.

Gallagher was also surprised with the decision saying that Lehkonen is one of the hardest-working players on the team, a complete 200-foot player.

Then Claude Julien stepped to the podium to clear up the mystery. Paraphrasing, the coach said ‘Just a way of rewarding Nick Cousins and Jordan Weal for playing so well.’  No one seemed to buy that explanation.

“We know what Lehks brings to the table,” said Gallagher. So was he hinting that this was a chance for other players to prove what they could bring to the team?

Victor Mete didn’t not dress due to a foot injury with Christian Folin taking his place in the lineup. Xavier Ouellet left the game just three minutes into the contest and didn’t return suffering a possible concussion.

The Canadiens head to Ottawa where they will play the Senators on Saturday night.

Plus / Minus

▲  Carey Price, Ben Chiarot, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher

▼  Brett Kulak, Jonathan Drouin, Nick Suzuki, Joel Armia, Jeff Petry, Phillip Danault