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'It was an avalanche': Penalties, momentum swing overwhelm Red Wings in Montreal

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Montreal — The Bell Centre has been the scene of a few ugly Red Wings losses these past few years.

You can add Saturday's to the list.

Montreal, coming into the game winless, unleashed a lot of frustration with a 6-1 victory over the Red Wings.

Dylan Larkin scored just five seconds into an early power play, giving the Wings a 1-0 lead and seemingly the start the team wanted against the confidence-poor Canadiens.

But, instead, Montreal scored six unanswered goals, drove goaltender Thomas Greiss (12 saves on 17 shots) out midway through the game, and convincingly earned its first victory.

BOX SCORE: Canadiens 6, Red Wings 1

"We played pretty good to start the game, then we took three (offensive zone) penalties in a row, which is tough to kill," defenseman Marc Staal said. "You get into this building and their crowd gets into it and they're feeding off it, and we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot over and over. We just kept giving it to them and it was an avalanche.

"It's different playing on the road, in these environments, and we have to handle it better."

The momentum clearly shifted to Montreal and the Wings weren't able to swing it back their way.

"It goes back to managing that momentum and when you have a young team that does not have a lot of experience in an environment like this, it starts to get away from you," Staal said. "You have to learn to handle it better and stay together and stay tight on the ice and not beat ourselves in situations where the home team is getting momentum."

Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss skates off the ice after being pulled during the second period against the Canadiens.

Mathieu Perreault had three goals for the Canadiens, who came into the game with only four goals as a team in those five losses.

But Montreal got plenty of help from the Wings, whose parade to the penalty box has been a problem early in the season.

"That's something that has plagued us," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We've taken too many penalties in those areas and we can't take offensive zone penalties. That's a number of them now, and then they get some momentum.

"We were fine coming into the second period (trailing 2-1) and they played way better than us in the second. We gave up too many easy chances. You can't give up easy chances and expect to win."

The Wings (2-2-1) have lost two consecutive games and visit another winless team, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Sunday.

Blashill wants to see more out of some of his forwards, who collectively weren't much of a factor against the Canadiens.

"We didn't have enough guys. … There's still more from our group of forwards, especially," Blashill said. "There's still more from a number of guys and we need guys playing at their 'A' games."

The Wings played without Tyler Bertuzzi, who was unavailable because of his non-vaccinated status, which makes Bertuzzi unable to enter Canada. Bertuzzi will be in the lineup Sunday in Chicago.

More: Wings' Robby Fabbri replaces Tyler Bertuzzi on top line in Montreal

"He was out and we knew he'd be out," Blashill said. "We had 20 dressed good enough to win the hockey game."

Also, defenseman Filip Hronek was a healthy scratch, with Troy Stecher entering the lineup.

Despite being the Wings' ice time leader on defense, Blashill hasn't been entirely pleased with Hronek's performance. Blashill said sitting Hronek was a "coach's decision" and wouldn't pinpoint a specific area of drop-off.

"We have eight defensemen that are NHL defensemen, so I made the decision to put Stech in," Blashill said. "Someone has to come out and it's nothing specific, just a coach's decision. Jordan Oesterle hasn't played (this season) and he's a good NHL defensemen. 

"Our defense played fine. If I was going through our lineup and rate our players, our forwards were below their norm more than our defensemen. For the most part, the defense played up to their norm or above."


Twitter: @tkulfan