The Calgary Flames squandered a golden opportunity.
With the game still scoreless early in the second period of Montreal’s 2-0 victory over the Flames on Tuesday, Calgary was given a chance to take the lead with a full two-minute, two-man advantage.
Tomas Plekanec was in the box for roughing, as well as Lars Eller for handling the puck on the ensuing faceoff, but Calgary’s struggling power play took only three shots on Carey Price — none too threatening.
“Not acceptable, obviously,” said Mike Cammalleri, who finished the game with three shots on goal, including one on that two-man advantage. “It’s crucial for us to get that goal.”
Cammalleri was facing his former Montreal team for the first since being traded to the Flames in Jan. 2012.
“It was a timely 5-on-3,” he said. “If we had been a little more patient, we might have gotten the look we were looking for.”
Instead, the Flames, ranked 26th in the league with an extra skater, only took shots from the perimeter and had little traffic in front of the net.
Stopping those shots was a Montreal goaltender in fine form. Price kept out not only the Flames’ three chances on the 5-on-3, but all 27 shots he faced in the game for his fourth shutout of the year and second in four games.
With the shutout, the 22nd of his career, Price tied former-Hab Jose Theodore for seventh on the Canadiens’ all-time shutout list. The Habs netminder, though, looked to a big shot block by defenceman Douglas Murray as the decisive moment with the man down.
Murray, who spent the full two minutes on the ice, got down on one knee to block a slapshot by Mark Giordano and was visibly hurt on the play.
“That’s what our penalty kill is all about,” said Price. “We have some really gutsy guys who are willing to do whatever it takes to kill penalties. And that’s why we were so successful. It was a big momentum boost for us.”
The Canadiens, the league’s third-best short-handed team, have now killed off 27 straight penalties. They last allowed a goal while playing with a man down on Jan. 24 against Detroit.
Rene Bourque rewarded his penalty killers late in the same frame, scoring the eventual winner for the Canadiens at 16:15.
Bourque came to Montreal (30-21-6) two years ago in the trade that sent Cammalleri to the Flames (21-28-7). Coming into the game, Cammalleri had amassed 72 points with the Flames since the swap — Bourque had 30 with the Canadiens.
He added a big one against his old team on Tuesday.
“I was getting a lot of quality scoring chances this last week. It’s nice to finally get one,” said Bourque, who finished the game with a goal, three shots, four hits and a blocked shot. “It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing anymore. I’ve been gone long enough. But it was nice to contribute.”
Bourque was rather fortuitous on the play, notching his eighth goal of the year when a Brandon Prust pass banked off his left leg and beat Flames netminder Reto Berra.
“Prust just waited for the defenceman (Dennis Wideman) to go down, got around him, and threw it out in front,” said Bourque. “It went off my shin pad.”
With Cammalleri serving a two-minute hooking penalty in the game’s final minute, David Desharnais added an empty netter for the Canadiens.
Berra got the nod in nets in place of Flames starting goaltender Karri Ramo, who injured his lower back in the first period of Calgary’s 4-3 overtime win over Minnesota on Saturday. Berra made 25 saves for the Flames, which snapped a five-game winning streak with the loss.
“We can’t fault Reto (Berra) for his effort,” said Calgary head coach Bob Hartley. “It gave us a chance to win. He came up with big saves at the right time.”
Hartley also looked to the Canadiens’ big penalty kill as the game changer.
“When you don’t score with an opportunity like that, the rule is, in hockey, you just can’t get the win,” he said. “We could have given the game a different look.”
The Canadiens have yet to lose in regulation this year when leading after two periods (25-0-3).
Notes: Dale Weise, 25, made his Canadiens debut playing on the fourth line with Ryan White and Michael Bournival. Weise was traded to Montreal from Vancouver for defenceman Raphael Diaz. a The Habs cap their four-game homestand against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, while the Flames play the New York Islanders.Report Typo/Error