Opponent: Maple Leafs
Win: 3-2 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Gustavsson (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gomez, Plekanec, A. Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: White, Blake
Halak made some unbelievable saves, but I still didn't think that our single best play was his tonight; that honour goes to the crew that created our second goal instead. The play I am choosing started with a neutral zone giveaway by the Leafs. It was Markov who was the recipient of the puck and made a no-look bullet pass to the offensive blue-line where Cammalleri was. Mike was able to make a perfect deflection to his centre who was streaking in on his right. Pleks went in and was able to lift a backhand up and over the 'monster' to make it 2-0 within a matter of seconds.
The Habs forwards didn't have a great game as they only posted 23 shots, but I still have to pick 3 players for this section. Therefore, I will choose Pleks who scored a goal even though he had an off-night. Like I said before these guys won't be great some games and we need the rest of the team to step up. Tonight, however, no one answered the call and it was again Pleks who played the best amongst the forward group.
I didn't notice Scott much tonight, but let's not forget that that isn't always a bad thing. The fact that he played over 1/4 of the game, never made any major blunders and managed to score a goal means that he is one of my top 3 in this one.
I actually liked the offensive fight that I saw from Andrei tonight. I'll be the first to admit that this wasn't a great game for him, but he was probably our most dangerous forward throughout the game. He took 3 shots had a few decent chances, wasn't a liability in his own end and scored his 12th, the OT winner.
Markov played a big role on goals 2 and 3 and one would have to think that without him we may not have won this game. He looked calm throughout the game and once again excelled at what I believe is his greatest strength - keeping the puck in the zone. He does this better than anyone in the league and one can only imagine how many fewer chances we would have had if Andrei was not keeping so many of our chances alive.
Spacek got caught running around a bit tonight, especially on Toronto's first goal, but overall had a pretty decent game (relatively). Playing with Markov means big minutes, big responsibility and big opportunity and so far I think he has done quite well. He played a very important role on the winner as it was he who made the great play at the point to keep the puck in the zone and, therefore, the play alive.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
Jaro now has 10 wins which is one more than Price in and he has done it in 10 less starts (16 vs. 26). It is, therefore, hard to consider Carey as our clear-cut #1 anymore and one would have to think that the obvious move of trading Halak must have to be seriously reconsidered. Tonight was the fourth straight game in which he has faced 40+ shots, won a road game that we probably didn't deserve to win and stood out from most (if not all) of his teammates. He was the biggest (and likely only) reason that we won this game as he seemed to make big save after big save. Right now he is playing with confidence as he is trying to prove to anyone who is watching (please be watching Bob) that he can not only be a #1 in this league, but a very good one at that.
Montreal started the game well and Toronto didn't, at all. Within 5 minutes we were up 2-0 and I don't think that there was a fan out there who thought it would end there, so abruptly, for the Habs. Well, end is exactly what it did, until OT that is. For the next 55 minutes the Habs were back on their heels, in their own zone as they simply watched Toronto put quality shots and chances towards the net. The Canadiens failed to get anything going and were unable to take advantage of what looked like a very beatable goalie. It was instead our goalie, Halak, who was the story from that point on. In all he faced 49 shots and was called upon to make at least 20 difficult saves. Toronto got a couple by him, but they certainly weren't their best shots as both took weird deflections before reaching the back of the net. My fear now is that the players are falling into a trap as they seem to think that their level of play will, somehow, get them wins. What the other 18 players must realize, however, is that our goalies cannot, and will not, always steal games for us and that they must outplay other teams to get us the bulk of our wins.
I am of course happy with this win and am happy to see these points in the bank, but I do hope that the Habs can pick up their team-play in the next little while. Having a very hot goalie and an all-star D-man in the line-up is great, but asking them to win you games, single handidly, on a nightly basis is both unfair and unreasonable. As the year ends our goal of 20 points in December now seems likelier than ever as 5 points against Ottawa, Tampa and Florida would make this a very, very good month after all.