Habs Goalie: Halak (L), Price
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (W)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Crosby (3), Rupp, Goligoski, Kunitz
Chances not converted were the only plays to rival our goal tonight, but alas, it is the goal that prevails. The Habs were on a 5-on-3 (the only time we were capable of really outplaying the Pens) when this all went down. The puck almost came out of the zone, but the man who ended the play, Plekanec, was the one who started it by swiftly holding the puck in at the point. Gomez then had the puck on Fleury's left with Tomas in front and Gionta at the far post. The pass went to Gionta, but it was off. Brian, however, did well to keep the puck in play as he deflected it with his skate into the slot. Plekanec had the puck and a whole lot of net to work with and, predictably, made no mistake.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
Pleks scored our only goal tonight, but, on top of that, was also our best forward. He was creative, quick and, unlike most others, never really gave up. I particularly liked when he repeatedly punched Guerin in the face and only wish, for that moment, that I could have been him.
Max has had a very quiet start to the season and has a lot of work to do to get himself to the 20-goal mark. So, he hasn't been as good as most people hoped (desperately hoped), but he has been OK. Is he a top-6 forward? No. Is he a good winger? Not really, better as a centre, but, he is still trying hard. Tonight his effort was what made him stand-out above his peers. Even though he didn't score I still liked the fact that he shot the puck (led the team with 5) and tried things in the offensive zone.
It may because he looks much older now, but do you think Chips actually, for the first time in his life, looks like an NHLer? He looks comfortable on the ice, plays his position well and is actually bringing quite a bit to the Habs. I am hoping that he can cement his spot as our #3 man this year, because Metro, although playing very well, is really a 4th-liner at heart. Tonight Kyle was very impressive in the face-off circle 9-3 as he continues to get a bit better each game.
This wasn't a great game for our defenders, but Hammer, yet again, stood above the rest. Yes, he was on the ice for 4 goals against, but maybe that is because he played nearly half of the game and had to play against the league's best. I saw no major personal flaws and also saw some good movement through the neutral zone and into Pittsburgh's end. If you don't think I am on with this selection feel free to let me know, but please limit your choices to Mara and Gorges as Gill and Bergeron were at their very worst tonight.
Spacek's big play of the game was a high-stick (a violent one at that) to the face of Staal. Luckily Jordan was alright so we'll probably never really hear about this one again. Aside from that blunder Jaro, like Hammer was OK. He was also on for 4 goals-against, but the same arguments as above hold true. He was a little slow getting back a few times, but I was happy with his 2 shots which really tested Fleury, so that makes up for it.
Not really the return Carey had hoped for, but 2 goals on 14 shots, believe it or not, is enough to beat out Halak on this night. To be fair to both goalies Pittsburgh is good, really good. The defence let Crosby and company go to work, but that, for me, was to be expected. Neither goalie was actually brutal, but with that many quick-passes, odd-man rushes and wide-open chances what is one really meant to do? Each goalie should get a start this weekend and it will be interesting to see if this latest 'controversy' will spark some better play from either of them, Price in particular.
I'd like to say that we started strong or maybe that we had a stretch in which we outplayed the Pens, but in reality that was not the case. We kept the game at 0-0 for a while, but on this night we were the worse team for 60 long minutes. There were no major breakdowns to talk about or no real lucky/unlucky bounces, no, it was just all Pittsburgh. They are a better team than we are (probably than we can ever be) and they simply played like that tonight. Losing to them on the road, without Markov, after 4 wins isn't pleasant, but I think we all expected it, didn't we? Too many games against weaker teams may have given the fans, and players alike, some hope, but on each and every play you can see the difference between this team and the Islanders, Leafs or Thrashers of this world. The good news is that we are still on track to meet our goal for the week; 2 points (however the Habs want to get them) over the next 2 games will set us up well for month #2 of the season.