Opponent: Blue Jackets
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Garon (W)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri, Bergeron (2), Metropolit, Lapierre
Opposition goalscorers: Vermette (2), Stralman
It has to be Fedor Tyutin's hooking penalty in the dying seconds of the second period. Did it prevent a goal? No, but boy did it ever launch the Habs. An extension of that play would of course be the intermission. The boys went into the locker room down a goal and with quite a mountain to climb against a team that was outplaying them in most categories. We started the third on the PP and although we didn't score while Tyutin was in the box, we did score almost immediately after he came out. We went on to own that period as we added two more goals and conceded none. Thanks for taking a stupid penalty Columbus, it was nice that it wasn't us for a change.
Do you think Max has seen the writing on the wall? I mean what do you think of when you hear the name Lapierre? You will probably think of Latendresse. Well, the dynamic duo (not so much this year) has now been separated and my guess is that Max wants to stay. Maybe until now the two took their jobs in their home province for granted, but now I think Laps realizes that he could be next. So, what does he do to prove he wants to stay? Simple, he plays the best game of his season, he gives us the type of performance that we expect from him. 1 goal and +2 may not seem like a lot, but the way he played tonight, compared with how he has been playing, represents a major improvement from the kid.
This Max didn't want to feel left out so he too had the best game of his season. The third period, in particular, was a strong one and I really hope this is something that he can build upon. He didn't manage to score, but he did get a couple of good chances and picked up two helpers in the process.
I ran out of players who gave their max, but Tomas did play another solid game. He collected 2 assists (both 2nd assists), but played a solid game beyond that. He was the best player on his line, who themselves did do a pretty good job tonight. He seems very capable of carrying the offensive load while we have multiple injuries and I fully expect that to continue when we are fully healthy again.
Defensively this was a very strong game from Hammer. He stood out amongst a group that got better as the game went on (Gorges in particular was also quite strong). There was one occasion in which Roman stripped Nash of the puck, near the goal in the third which I believe prevented what could have been a decent chance against us. Now, stats show that he was on the ice for all of our goals against, but I can only stress that winning this game may not have even been possible had he not been there to reduce the damage.
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Game Puck
The good news is that MAB, despite one brutal icing, played a pretty neutral game in his own end. He still got scared when fore-chekers were coming at him, but he took steps to ensure nothing too catastrophic happened. Offensively, however, he had an amazing game. In all he took over 1/4 of our total shots (8), played for 21 minutes, was +3 and, oh ya, he scored 2 goals including the game-winner.
Carey's play continues. Tonight he wasn't dominant, but he did do very well early on to keep the goals to 3 or less. Columbus out-worked and out-chanced us in the opening 40 minutes and Price ensured that the game was always going to be ours if we wanted it. I find that one big improvement for him has been the way in which he is taking the initial shot. He is smothering pucks better, directing them into corners with a higher frequency and seems to be better positioned in the first place to receive these shots.
When you think of what our team was supposed to be back at the end of September it may surprise you to read tonight's line-up card. How about these names - Wyman, White, Pyatt, Chipchura, S. Kostitsyn, Pacioretty, Leach, Begeron, O'Byrne. That is 9 players, of 19, that we didn't expect to be in our 'ideal' line-up. Well, with injuries and departures this is our reality. And, you know what, we are making it work. Tonight was a good example of how hard work does pay off. Over the course of the first two periods we were out-played by a more talented team. Our best elements (Cammalleri, Plekanec and Price) kept us in the game, however. Then the third period was all about hard work and persistence. We kept coming and Columbus just couldn't hold on. Once the third started you could feel a goal was coming. The funny thing, however, is that after we scored that feeling didn't go away, it remained for the rest of the game.
There is a big test tomorrow and I think a point (even a hard-fought 1-goal loss) would prove that this team can indeed play with the big boys after all. I do think that with good goaltending and a solid work ethic (even Sergei had that tonight) we can certainly continue on this current upward trend.