Charlie Lindgren returned to the NHL after a three-month absence and learned that even a shutout isn’t enough when you’re tending goal for the offensively challenged Canadiens.
Lindgren was credited with a shutout after making 33 saves through regulation time and a five-minute overtime, but his teammates couldn’t find a way to beat Philadelphia goaltender Petr Mrazek. As a result, the Canadiens finished on the short end of a 1-0 decision when Sean Couturier scored in the sixth round of a shootout. That proved to be the winner after Paul Byron and Jakub Voracek traded goals earlier in the shootout.
“Obviously, with the talent they have on their side, they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves,” said Lindgren, who was recalled from Laval after Carey Price was sidelined with a concussion. “I tried to wait until they made the first move. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it done.”
Lindgren did get it done for 65 minutes and he forced the shootout when he made a diving stop on Claude Giroux in overtime.
“That was sweet,” said Lindgren, who made six saves in overtime. “It was a classic effort save — dive and try to get a piece of it and I did.”
Lindgren said he was a tad nervous as he made his first NHL appearance since Nov. 21, but he said he saw some shots early in the game and settled in.
“Every time I’m up here, I want to take advantage of the opportunity,” said Lindgren, who signed a three-year, one-way contract extension this month. “That’s my mindset. I just try to give the team the best chance I can.”
“I’m definitely impressed but I’m not surprised,” captain Max Pacioretty said when asked about Lindgren. “He’s a guy that’s always come up here and battled. Tonight he definitely gave us a spark. He made some phenomenal saves and he battled very hard and gave us a chance to win the game. Often we’re talking about being on the wrong ends of the shootout and overtime as of late. But you got to give him complete credit for getting us that far.”
Lindgren has a 3-4-2 record, but the lack of support he has received is reflected in some other numbers. He has two shutouts with a 2.13 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
Coach Claude Julien said it was difficult to measure Lindgren’s progress because he hasn’t seen Lindgren play in Laval where the Rocket has struggled with its own lack of scoring and injuries.
“Tonight, he was solid,” Julien said. “There’s more and more confidence from the games he’s played. (The Flyers) are a good team that has been getting points in every game and they had some excellent chances tonight. Those were good shots that beat him in the shootout.”
Julien said the 0-0 score through overtime didn’t reflect the nature of the game He said he thought his team played a good game on a night when there were excellent scoring chances at both end of the ice.
Flyers goaltender Mrazek made 28 saves and he is 3-0 since he was acquired from Detroit last week.
Rookie defencemen Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen continued to turn in solid performances. Mete logged 22:13 of ice time and Juulsen topped 20 minutes and Julien had enough confidence to send them out in the overtime.
Jacob de la Rose has replaced Tomas Plekanec on the third line and he showed some offensive spark with four shots on goal. But he made Jonathan Drouin look good when he won only 11 per cent of his faceoffs. Drouin checked in at 22 per cent.
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