There was no dreamlike comeback Thursday as the Canadiens dropped a 4-2 decision to the Detroit Red Wings in their home opener at the Bell Centre.
After coming from behind and earning at least one point in three road games to open the season, the Canadiens were never capable to catch up to the Red Wings, who ended a nine-game winless streak (0-8-1) versus Montreal.
A couple of Quebecers played key roles as Detroit improved to 3-1-0 on the season. Laval native Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves for the win while Longueuil’s Anthony Mantha delivered the winning goal on a power play late in the in second period.
The game might have played out differently if the NHL hadn’t made a rule change in the off-season.
You could tell that Claude Julien wanted to challenge Tyler Bertuzzi’s goal, which gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 19:37 of the first period. Carey Price was off-balance after contact in the crease from Dylan Larkin. There was a case to be made for goaltender interference and Julien called the referee to the bench. It looked as if he was ready to challenge the goal, but after a quick look at a replay, he decided not to take the chance.
In the past, if a team lost a challenge, the only consequence was the loss of its timeout.
Under the new rules, it’s penalized for delay of game. Under those circumstances, the interference has to be blatant and, even then, there are no assurances.
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Montreal had tied the score 30 seconds earlier when Joel Armia scored his third goal of the season. Julien made a key move on the goal by sending Phil Danault out to take the faceoff. Danault won the draw and Jonathan Drouin set up Armia in the high slot.
While the power play has been better, the same can’t be said for the penalty kill. Mantha scored his team-high sixth goal of the season on the power play to break a 2-2 tie in the second period. Detroit had two power play opportunities as the Canadiens played a more organized game than they did on Wednesday in Buffalo, where they were short-handed five times and surrendered two power play goals to the NHL’s best power play unit.
The Canadiens have given up five goals in 14 short-handed situations. It’s a success rate of 66.6 per cent.
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Darren Helm opened the scoring for Detroit and Luke Glendening added an empty-net goal.
The Canadiens are back in action Saturday when the Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues visit the Bell Centre