Win: 2-1 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Miller (L)
Habs goalscorers: Moen, Gionta
Opposition goalscorers: Connolly
The setting was perfect for me and Topham, you see we were at one of our best friend's weddings. Being the guy he is he made sure that the Habs game would be playing in an adjacent room so we could get our fix. We didn't like to leave the dancing too often (we actually watched the game later in its entirety), but found our way there towards the end of the third. Into OT the Habs went and I was just happy with 3 points in 2 games to start the season; the Habs were not. Gomez and Gionta led a rush that ended up giving us a 2-0 start to the season. The final play had Gomez missing the net with a hard shot and Gionta batting the rebound (which came from the back-boards) into the net. It was a great addition to a splendid day and even the groom was thrilled - he has Gionta in the pool.
Brian managed to score in a second straight game and, yet again, it was a goal-scorer's goal. It wasn't just the way in which he scored scored the goal that impressed, but was also, for the second time this year, the timing of the goal. What is really nice to see so early too is how well he works with Gomez; Gainey, it seems, did well. I think that we have a clutch goal-scorer with great hands in our midst and that should come in very handy all year long.
Tom didn't follow up his 2-point performance with any points in this one, but I thought that he played a stronger game. He seemed very involved all night and appears to be very determined to re-find his top form. He played over 20 minutes of hockey and was an impressive 12-8 in the face-off circle.
After two games of watching Moen I can say that I was very wrong about him in my preview. Now, keep in mind that my preview is based on his work over entire seasons and not just 2-game stints, but so far I have been quite impressed. Through his goal, although not pretty, he gave us a taste of something that we have been sorely missing for a few years; a player willing to cut in and go hard to the net. The rest of his game looked rough, but that is exactly what we want him to do - hit, fight, win battles, to basically do whatever it takes to win.
Roman made his season debut in this one and did a marvelous job filling in for our absent master. In all he played just under 24 minutes of hockey, picked up an assist, was +2 and put 9 shots towards the net. We will need Hammer to be a force in both ends if we want to be in a good position by the time Andrei comes back and I think he should be up to the task. I have always liked his offensive upside and, if this game is any indication, at it's best it won't cost us his defensive game.
Spacek got the better of his old team in Buffalo and maybe reminded them how important it is to have players of his caliber around. The more I watch him the more confident I get with his play in our own end. He was touted as an offensive weapon, but for a second straight game I was very pleased with how he worked in and around Price too. He picked up his first point as a Hab in the game, played 26 minutes (more than any other Hab), was +1 and blocked 5 shots (almost half of our team's total).
Carey Price - Game Puck
2 down, 80 to go. Carey definitely didn't pick up where he left off last season (or in the pre-season for that matter). No, instead he has been one of our best players and has been a big reason for our success. He made 2 or 3 incredible saves including one in the dying minutes against Pominvile, point-blank, which saved our bacon. He seems more comfortable in his crease this year and is finding/handling pucks much better. I hope that he keeps his play up on this season-starting road trip and that by the time he gets to Montreal (and some harsh fans with long memories) his play will do all the talking.
The Habs haven't really dominated their opponents this year, but they have found ways to win. In this game I thought that Buffalo was by far the superior team all night, but we still managed the 2 points. In fact, we only took 17 shots (18 less than the Sabres) which may only win you one game a year (and that just happened). So, needless to say we have a lot to work on. I thought that the Sabres were very happy playing a physical game tonight and that may have helped our cause. For one, I think we can be as (if not more) physical than most teams in the league and also, it generally means that the opposition will lose its focus. Our team is obviously still trying to find some chemistry and is still dealing with some big losses, but we'd better get it sorted soon. You aren't going to be able to steal 2 points every time and, eventually, you have to be the dominant team. This game taught me that this Habs team has potential, it has speed, it has toughness and it has heart, but it also taught me that, on most nights, that simply won't be enough. Our passing and creativity in the offensive zone looked poor and I felt that we took way too many penalties. I still believe that we are building a team based on smart (meaning disciplined, responsible, creative) play and I think that we have enough talent to make that pay off. Calgary, on Tuesday, will be a test and it may be a hard one to win. What I want, however, isn't necessarily a squeak-it-out win, but would like a full, 60-minute sustained effort in which I can say we played that smart type of hockey that I am talking about.