MONTREAL – Rookie hopeful Max Pacioretty scored in regulation and in shootout as the Montreal Canadiens downed the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in NHL pre-season action Tuesday night.
Carey Price won his second straight shootout for the Canadiens (5-2-0), making 28 saves and stopping Valtteri Filppula on Detroit’s final shootout attempt to preserve the win.
Ville Leino scored in both regulation and the shootout for the Red Wings (2-1-1), who sat most of their all-stars aside from Marian Hossa. After Leino and Pacioretty exchanged goals as the first shooters of the shootout, Price stopped Hossa before Robert Lang came down on Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and beat him with a deke to his backhand.
The Wings puck-possession game was in full evidence as they controlled much of the play early, forcing the Canadiens into lazy penalties.
The Montreal penalty killers did a commendable job, keeping Detroit off the scoreboard on eight power-play opportunities, including a 45-second two-man advantage midway through the third period.
Of course, the strongest penalty killer was Price, who made a highlight reel stop during a Wings power play in the third. Brian Rafalski took a point shot into a crowd in front that Price kicked up into the air, and then wheeled his stick around to bat the puck out of midair to safety.
Howard – third on the Red Wings depth chart – went the distance, stopping 26 shots.
The game marked the first time of the pre-season Alex Kovalev played with former Pittsburgh Penguins linemate Robert Lang, and the line they formed with Pacioretty was Montreal’s most dangerous of the night.
Pacioretty – named the game’s first star – continued his bid to force his way on to the Canadiens roster, even though head coach Guy Carbonneau has made it clear there are no spots available for a rookie.
He created a great chance in the first when he poked a puck away from veteran Chris Chelios at the Red Wings blue-line before setting up Kyle Chipchura in front, and on the same shift Pacioretty hammered Tomas Kopecky into the boards.
On his goal at 4:42 of the second, Pacioretty grabbed a puck in the neutral zone, fed Kovalev at the blue-line and cut to the net. He then outmuscled Kopecky driving the net, took a return pass from Kovalev and flipped a backhand past Howard for his first of the pre-season to make it 1-0 Canadiens.
He also came close to winning it in regulation when Kovalev sent him in on a partial break, but Howard made the stop.
Leino, who turns 25 next Tuesday, is also making a strong push to grab the last available forward spot on the Red Wings. An undrafted free agent signed in May, Leino finished second in Finnish league scoring last year with 77 points in 55 games playing for Jokerit Helsinki.
He is said to be competing with Darren Helm for a spot, and likely helped himself with a goal off a lucky break at 6:35 of the second. Canadiens defenceman Ryan O’Byrne’s clearing attempt bounced off Wings defenceman Brett Lebda and bounced in front to a wide open Leino, who put a shot through Price’s legs for his second of the pre-season.
Notes: Kovalev was given the Jean Beliveau Trophy prior to the game in recognition of his charitable work in the Montreal community. Kovalev has purchased a luxury suite at the Bell Centre where he invites sick children to watch a game through a program called Kovy’s Kids. He also started his Kovalev and Friends for Kids Foundation that raises money to provide medical care for children with serious heart problems. …The Canadiens announced Tuesday the signing of defenceman Frederic St-Denis, 22, , who played in the CIS last season with the University of Quebec Trois-Rivieres. St-Denis played three seasons of major junior with Habs winger Guillaume Latendresse for the Drummondville Voltigeurs