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DETROIT — Shea Weber returned to the lineup, but the Montreal Canadiens allowed three third-period goals in a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday.
“This stings because we know this is a game we should have won,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We killed a penalty at the start of the third and we needed to get some momentum from that, but we had some real sloppy mistakes and bad decisions.”
Weber had been expected to be out 4-6 weeks with a left ankle injury sustained Feb. 4 against the New Jersey Devils but returned after missing six games. The defenseman played 21:50 and was a minus-2 with two shots and four blocked shots.
“I felt good. Everything was fine,” said Weber, the Montreal captain. “We just didn’t play the way you need to play when you are trying to make a run at this point of the season.”
After his turnover led to Montreal’s first goal, Andreas Athanasiou scored twice for the Red Wings (15-43-4), who ended a four-game losing streak.
“I was just trying to get us on the board and build things back up,” he said. “I’ve had a tough year, but fortunately, the puck is starting to go in.”
Jonathan Bernier made 19 saves for Detroit, which swept the four-game season series. It is the first time the Red Wings have swept a series of at least that length against the Canadiens.
“It’s one of those things you can’t explain,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “It isn’t like we have great matchups against them, and before this, there was a long stretch where they totally owned us.”
Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist for Montreal (27-27-8), which has lost five straight (0-4-1) and is tied with the Buffalo Sabres for fifth in the Atlantic Division, eight points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third. Carey Price made 21 saves.
“We had a lead here before and we couldn’t hold it, so we knew what we had to do,” Suzuki said. “I’m putting a lot of that on me.”
Nate Thompson gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at 5:59 of the first period, tapping in a Nick Cousins pass. Montreal forward Paul Byron, who missed the previous 42 games with a knee injury, stole the puck from Athanasiou to start the play.
“It felt good to be back out there,” Byron said. “It would have been better to come back with a win.”
Jeff Petry made it 2-0 with a point shot on the power play at 16:03.
Robby Fabbri cut it to 2-1 at 1:24 of the second period.
Suzuki made it 3-1 at 12:40 of the second, one-timing Jordan Weal‘s cross-slot pass on the power play.
The Red Wings started the third period on the power play, but Price lunged across the crease to make a point-blank save on Dylan Larkin at 1:06.
“I thought we carried a lot of the play in the second period, but we were still down two and then we didn’t get anything on that power play,” Blashill said. “You don’t want to put yourself in a position of needing three goals against Carey Price.”
Athanasiou made it 3-2 at 5:04 of the third, taking a pass from Alex Biega and scoring with a backhand.
Mike Green tied it 3-3 at 10:41 off Anthony Mantha‘s stretch pass, scoring his 150th NHL goal and getting his 500th NHL point.
“I got lucky, because I almost fanned on it,” he said. “It’s an honor to reach those marks, and I want to thank all my teammates along the way.”
Athanasiou gave Detroit a 4-3 lead at 14:45 after Tyler Bertuzzi forced Suzuki into a turnover in the neutral zone.
“At first I didn’t realize he was there, but the bench was yelling at me about it,” Suzuki said. “I needed to get the puck out of there.”
They said it
“For some reason, we have an inability to play 60 good minutes and it has cost us a lot of games this year. I don’t know if it is a lack of confidence or a lack of being able to play 60 minutes, but we played two good periods tonight and ended up with another lost game.” — Canadiens coach Claude Julien
“It feels good to beat them all four times, because they are a good team with a very good goalie. That’s the same team that has beaten us pretty badly the last couple of years, but we played four solid games against them this season.” — Red Wings center Dylan Larkin
Need to know
Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher missed the game with a lower-body injury. … Montreal won nine straight against Detroit from April 8, 2017, through the end of last season. … Canadiens defenseman Victor Mete left the game in the second period after a shot hit his left ankle. … Bernier got his 150th NHL win and remains the only Red Wings goalie with a victory since Jimmy Howard defeated the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 29.
Canadiens: At the Washington Capitals on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV)
Red Wings: Visit the New York Islanders on Friday (Nassau Coliseum; 8 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-D, NHL.TV)