EditorsNote: changes to de la Rose scoring shorthanded, not Deslauriers
Canadiens rout Red Wings 10-1 for fifth straight win
MONTREAL -- A little more than a week ago, the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens were jostling shoulder-to-shoulder deep in the Atlantic Division standings.
After Montreal’s 10-1 victory against Detroit on Saturday at Bell Centre, decisively sweeping their home-and-home series, they are two teams going in different directions.
The Red Wings (10-12-5) have lost seven games in a row (0-4-3) and are a team in crisis.
The Canadiens (13-12-3), backed by the return of superstar goaltender Carey Price, have won five in a row and remained in third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Red Wings were outscored 16-3 in their home-and-home with the Canadiens and Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said the game Saturday was the most embarrassing loss he’s been involved in during his career.
”I’ve played professional hockey for 20 years now and I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of anything that happened here tonight,“ Zetterberg said. ”We’re not better than this right now. It has nothing to do with skill. It has nothing to do with systems. It has nothing to do with bounces. We have to dig in. We have to win battles. We have to work harder. We have to work harder for each other. We have to get together if we want to turn this around.
“You don’t want to be in this situation. You basically embarrassed everyone that played with the Winged Wheel tonight and we have to live with that.”
Red Wings veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall said he was “fuming inside.”
”Today was just embarrassing,“ he said. ”I don’t even know what word to describe it, really. From the top guy to the last guy. Not only did we embarrass ourselves, but we embarrassed our organization.
“It’s about time we looked at ourselves in the mirror. It doesn’t matter what talks you have if you’re not going to be out there and be prepared to play. Today we had nothing.”
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said he and his staff take “100 percent” responsibility for the team’s play lately.
“I’ve always believed as a coach that the play of your players is a reflection of you as a coach, 100 percent,” he said. “I accept 100 percent responsibility. I’ve always believed in the fact the way your team plays resembles the way you’ve coached them. We have to be better as a group.”
Blashill said he believes the Red Wings have the people in their dressing room to turn their season around.
“I can tell you this for sure. We’ve got to decide as a group that we’re not putting up with this. We didn’t make that decision coming into today,” he said. “We’ve got to at some point here, we’ve got to make the decision this isn’t what we are going to be about. I’ve said it tons, life is about what happens when you get knocked down and we’ve got knocked down here a number in a row. Are we going to decide to dig in? I believe absolutely 100 percent we have the character to do it.”
Backed by Price, who made 22 saves and is 5-0-0 since missing 10 games with a lower-body injury, and a suddenly flourishing offense, the Canadiens got three goals from forward Paul Byron as they took advantage of numerous Red Wings breakdowns. Byron scored two of his goals on breakaways.
Even the Canadiens’ fourth line of Nicolas Deslauriers and Daniel Carr (one goal, two assists apiece), and Byron Froese (two assists) got in on the action. Brendan Gallagher scored his 13th of the season on a breakaway.
Fourteen Canadiens had at least a point.
Jacob de la Rose, Charles Hudon, Jordie Benn, and Andrew Shaw also scored for the Canadiens and Alex Galchenyuk had four assists on a miserable night for the Red Wings goaltenders, who got no support from their teammates. Petr Mrazek gave up five goals on 25 shots for Detroit and was replaced by Jimmy Howard, who gave up five goals on nine shots.
Luke Glendening scored his sixth goal of the season for the Red Wings.
De la Rose scored his goal on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush.
The Canadiens had scored more than three goals in a game five times in their first 26 games and were 30th in offense a few weeks ago.
“I don’t think anyone was ever too worried. This group works way too hard not to be rewarded,” Byron said.
After 3-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Nov. 21, the Canadiens were 8-12-2. Price was out and things looked bleak. Ten days later, the Canadiens have points in six straight (5-0-1) and are back in playoff contention.
”It was crucial for our season,“ Byron said of the Canadiens play lately. ”There was kind of two ways to go. We could pity ourselves and give up or stop fighting or come together and find a way to get one win at a time. In an 82 game season anything can happen. Teams can get hot. Teams can get cold. We all knew we were much better than what our record said we were.
“We can’t forget where we were a week ago and where we sat in the standings.”
Canadiens coach Claude Julien said his team is figuring things out.
”The way we’ve played lately is more of what we can do and are able to do and what we want to do because it’s giving us the success we’re looking for,“ he said. ”We’re a good skating team. We just have to play smart.
“Hopefully it’s an identity that’s starting to show and we can take pride in.”
NOTES: The game Saturday was the 22nd anniversary of G Patrick Roy’s last game with the Canadiens. After getting pulled in an 11-1 loss to the Red Wings, he demanded a trade and was sent to Colorado where he won a Stanley Cup that season. That made the time of the one-sided game Saturday a little interesting. ... Canadiens D Shea Weber returned to the lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury. ... Montreal C Jonathan Drouin missed his second game with a lower-body injury. ... Canadiens scratches were D Jakub Jerabek and D Joe Morrow. ... Detroit coach Jeff Blashill opted to dress seven defensemen. ... Red Wings RW Martin Frk was back in the lineup after missing eight games with a lower-body injury. ... Detroit scratches were LW David Booth and C Scott Wilson. ... Detroit RW Luke Witkowski served the eighth contest of his 10-game suspension for returning to the ice to fight against the Calgary Flames on Nov. 15. ... Also injured for the Canadiens are RW Ales Hemsky (concussion), LW Artturi Lehkonen (lower body), G Al Montoya (concussion) and RW Nikita Scherbak (knee).