Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Elliott (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri, Bergeron, A. Kostitsyn, Gomez
Opposition goalscorers: Fisher
There wouldn't have been a win without a save that Halak made in the first period. The save showed his teammates that Thursday against Buffalo was the anomaly and not the rest of the season. A shot came in and Jaro was unable to smother the puck. A rebound came off of him and bounced out to the front of the net. Now, it wasn't Alfie, Fisher or Kovy waiting, but there was indeed a player there. That player was Regin and he took the puck to Halak's left. Fully stretched-out, however, Jaro had different plans than to put his team in a hole. He made the glove save and kept the game tight long enough for the Habs to take the lead.
Our PP did well tonight, but it was really our PK that stood out. We killed all 7 of our penalties and have now killed over 20 in a row. Halak, Gill and others always get a lot of credit, but how about the work of Moen? He killed over 7 minutes of penalties and still managed 3 shots on net.
Could Pleks, after an off-season, be the player that we have missed since Carbo? I may be getting ahead of myself, but so far this year Tom has been doing it in both ends. Tonight was a prime example of how he is our most complete player. Like Moen, he played 7+ on the PK, but he also helped our cause with an assist on every goal but the empty-netter.
I am in a PK mood tonight because I just witnessed some of the best penalty-killing from the Habs in a few seasons. Martin seems to have the units down as he is now only using 4 forwards to kill. Unlike previous years where we would have used the Lapierres, Pyatts and Metropolits (simply to balance out playing time) we are now using the 4 best at killing penalties. That group includes one grinder (Moen), 2 'offensive' centres (I say that because they are clearly more) and our boy Sergei. He did a formidable job on the PK and also throughout the rest of the game for that matter as he very nearly scored on a couple of occasions.
Marc-Andre contributed tonight in a way that makes me glad we have him. Yesterday he was on the 4th line, tonight he was our 5th defenceman after Spacek went down. He even saw some PK time when Gill was in the box and, I thought, held his own. His big contribution, however, was on offence, the PP in particular. He managed to score the game-winner from the point and then played a huge role on Kostitsyn's insurance goal as he was the one that drove the puck to the net.
Josh took most of the time that became available once Jaro went down. Surprisingly he didn't see any PP time (15 seconds), but he did get almost 8 minutes on the PK. In all he played 26 minutes (2 less than Hammer's very impressive 28) which seems like a lot. Josh, however, does seem to be able to handle the added workload when necessary, even on less than 24 hours of rest. I hope that Spacek will be back soon, though, as Gorges and Hammer can only play 25+ so much before it starts hurting the team
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
I can't think of anyone who would be more happy about tonight than Halak himself. I think he deserved another start (especially during a 4-game week), but I know a lot of coaches who, after last Thursday, wouldn't have used him. I thought that maybe 3 weeks off was too much last time and I am glad that he played after only sitting 2 games this time. You know that the kid is competitive and that he believes in himself, so it is nice to see that the team does too. This game was good on three levels I think. One, it got us points, two, it reassured us that we have a capable back-up, and three it gave Carey a night off. This, however, wasn't simply a case of a back-up playing well, no, this was a case of a goalie stealing a game. In all he made 45 saves, some of the spectacular fashion, and he never put his team in trouble.
3 wins in a row and all of a sudden I am having trouble remembering last week's first two games. I then take a deep breath and realize that the season is long and what has just happened to us happens to every team. There will be ups and there will be downs and the real challenge is how you manage it all - how you manage losing streaks, winning streaks, injuries, personnel changes, celebrations, scoring droughts and so on. Tonight we weren't the better team, but we won because we were better in certain areas. A better team wouldn't have taken 7 penalties, but, thankfully, we were better at killing them than Ottawa was. A better team would draw more penalties, but when you go 2/3 on the PP it is neither here nor there. And, a better team wouldn't let up 46 shots, but what does that matter when your goalie totally outplays his adversary. I am not sure that we deserved to lose this game, but had we done so, I wouldn't have been surprised. Let's however, put these 2 points in the bank and find a way to get points from our two other games coming up later in the week.