MONTREAL — Jake Allen's second shutout in as many weeks felt less frantic than the first.
The Montreal Canadiens' starting goalie blocked 22 shots in a 3-0 win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Allen made 45 saves last week in San Jose for his first shutout as a Hab.
Allen felt his teammates were more in control of Tuesday's game.
“I thought it was our best game of the year,” Allen said. "We were solid all over the ice and it looked easy for us, to be honest, and that’s the way it should be when we’re all playing as one. I was really impressed with how they played.”
Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists and Josh Anderson scored his third of the season for Montreal. Brendan Gallagher scored an empty-net goal.
Alex Nedeljkovic was busy in Detroit's net conceding two goals from 41 shots.
A decisive win at home for the Canadiens (3-8-0) helped ease the sting of losing three of four on their West Coast road trip.
“It's been frustrating, obviously, but the only way to get through it is to keep working, keep grinding away,” Anderson said. “Once you do that, you're going to pull a lot of guys into the fight with you.”
Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme was satisfied with both the result and the way his team played Tuesday.
“That’s the way we play, that’s our team,” Ducharme said. “That’s what we need to do and it’s the first time that we do that for 60 minutes. We saw glimpses of that but we need to do that for 60 minutes. It's not more complicated than that.”
The Canadiens want to continue that through their next four home games. The New York Islanders are in town Thursday.
“Consistency, I think it’s such a general word, but it’s success,” Allen said. “If you’re consistent as a group every single night, the chances of winning are on your side.
“You’re not going to feel good every game. It might be 30 per cent of the games all year you’ll feel amazing, but for the rest you just have to find a way to put it together as a team and that’s exactly what we have to do Thursday."
Montreal scored 2:06 after the opening puck drop. Suzuki earned his first of the season batting in his own rebound.
Anderson doubled the Canadiens’ lead midway through the first period. The winger entered Detroit’s zone from the left side all alone and his shot from the faceoff circle was no match for Nedeljkovic.
Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin took a shot in the head from teammate Brett Kulak. Drouin hurried to the locker room and didn’t return to the game. He was sent to the hospital for further evaluations.
“It’s always worrisome but the news is encouraging,” Ducharme said. “He will get evaluated again tomorrow morning, but as of now, it’s encouraging.”
Added Anderson: "I went to go check on him in the first period, but he was off to the hospital getting checked on and then I saw him after the game, everything was going well. Obviously he's going to get looked at tomorrow. He just went there for cautionary reasons, but it looks like he's OK. Any time you see that is very scary.”
Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill was displeased with his team's performance at the Bell Centre.
“They were better than us from the first shift all the way to the last shift,” Blashill said. "They played like it was a playoff game, we played like it was an exhibition game.
"That isn’t even close to what we can do to be successful. We weren’t even in the hemisphere of what we needed to do.
After allowing the two early goals, Nedeljkovic rallied in the second and third periods to give Detroit a chance at a comeback.
With Tyler Bertuzzi (unvaccinated) and Dylan Larkin (personal reasons) out of Detroit's lineup, the Red Wings (4-4-2) couldn’t solve Allen.
“Our execution wasn’t good enough, our work ethic wasn’t good enough,” Blashill said. “It was a 2-0 game, we had a chance to come out and have a great third period against a team that’s just come off a West Coast trip, that lost a player early in Drouin and we didn’t even come close to mustering up the effort.”
Gallagher's empty-netter sealed Montreal’s second win of the season over Detroit.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov, 2, 2021.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press