|Oshie scores the lone shootout goal against Price|
The Canadiens came off of back to back losses against west coast teams and were facing a team that some voted as the cup favorites going into the season in the St-Louis Blues. In a very strong central division they sit 4th. They have a few games in hand against their opponents and were eager to gain ground with the red hot Avalanche. The Blues rank 7th in goals against per game, the Canadiens sit 4th in that category and needed to hold down the NHL's 2nd ranked offense.
The Blues got on the board 2 minutes into the game when David Backes outmuscled Douglas Murray behind the net and fed Alexander Steen in the slot who sent a wrist shot by Price. Steen has been on a torrid pace this season scoring his league leading 13th goal.
The Blues maintained pressure and strong passing against the Canadiens throughout the first. Being under constant pressure, they forced the Habs to take four penalties throughout the game to send the Blues on the man-advantage. The Habs killed all four penalties and after each kill attempted to use that momentum to gain the Blues zone but didn't generate many scoring chances in the first.
With nearly five minutes in the first George Parros wanted to spark the team by getting into a fight against Reaves. This gave the Canadiens an emotional boost. Offensively they started to get more pucks on net and while they didn't score in the first they got their best opportunity to score when a shot from Markov gave way to a juicy rebound that no one was able to put by Halak.
They tied the game with a drive by Andrei Markov to the front of the net that left a puck wide open for Rene Bourque who put the rebound off of the pad of Halak to the back of the net.
The Blues jumped right back onto the attack and had it not been for some timely saves by Price the Habs would have been down in the minutes following the tieing goal.
The rest of the period the Canadiens elevated their rate of play. Though many of the odd-man rushes were broken up by the Blues back-check.
Max Pacioretty was attempting to be a catalyst for the offense and despite coming off of an injury was getting back into his role as a top line player for the Habs. While there was still rust showing in his game, he showed a ton of determination that seemed to inspire the younger players like Gallagher and the goal scorer, Bournival.
Bournival's goal was scored all thanks to strong pressure put on Jay Bouwmeester by Brian Gionta. The puck was coughed up right onto the stick of Bournival in the slot who ripped a slap-shot by Halak.
The Canadiens held back the Blues attack and had a majority of the puck possession to end the period.
The Habs didn't let up in the third. They came out with the same intensity that they finished with in the second. A lot of pressure and puck control, a role reversal from the first period. That extra step to push the Blues into their zone, beating them to the puck and while the Habs are not typically a physical team they were forcing the Blues to make awkward passes and turnover the puck, despite having a lackluster night off the face-offs finishing with only a 36% success rate.
When it looked like the Habs had all the momentum, the Blues took a point-shot midway through the third by Kevin Shattenkirk and wound up making a series of deflections before hitting Chris Stewart and beating Price.
The Blues nearly shot themselves in the foot when they took a penalty with less than a minute in the game. David Backes hit the net off and the Habs received a penalty shot for delay of game. Tomas Plekanec was called upon for the penalty shot but Halak came up big and stopped him to preserve the game for the Blues.
Ultimately the Canadiens proved to match-up well against the Blues who have seen a lot of success this season. Positives included the ability to not let-up the pressure, while a bad bounce could have cost the Canadiens two points. They came away with one on a night that many may have believed they'd fall short. A big game by Price and the Habs shot blockers prevented more dangerous goal scoring chances from being a determining factor.
While the shooters in the shoot-out were questionable by Therrien it was the first time the Canadiens were in a shoot out this season so it was a test to see where his shooters stand.