Win: 3-2 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Theodroe (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri, Gomez, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Corvo, Backstrom
I would be foolish to neglect the importance of Plekanec's OT winner, but I think that we can all appreciate the value of that. For me, however, the play-of-the-game is Gomez's goal, the goal that gave us the chance to even go to OT. It all started with Gomez skating hard through the neutral zone, as he does, with good speed and control. After crossing the blue-line he left the puck for Pouliot who wasted no time in finding the open man, Gionta. In the meantime Scott had found his way into the slot and in no time his buddy found him the puck. If you haven't seen it, find it, but who am I am kidding, we were all glued to the TV no matter where we were, right?
Great players sometimes have quiet games and then show up when it counts. I won't say too much, but 2 great players had quiet games tonight and it was Plekanec who was able to unload the perfect shot behind his old teammate. The overall word was that he had a bad game, but don't confuse quiet with bad as he was still worthy of his title of #1 centre.
Gomez also delivered a goal in this most important of games, but on top of that played a solid game. Don't let his 32% on face-offs take away from the fact that he and his linemates, especially in the second period, offered a very good threat for the Habs.
Is there any Hab fan out there that still cares Mike hadn't scored since January? Is there anyone out there still willing to admit that they were worried that he may not be as good as we had hoped. Topham summed it up on Monday night when he said that Mike was getting closer (hitting posts vs. TO) and that it was only a matter of time till he got his aim back. Thanks Topham for restoring my confidence, thanks Mike for getting the ball rolling in this series with an absolutely sick shot.
One of the main reasons that Ovechkin hasn't been at his best vs. the Habs over the years has always been the outstanding play of Markov. Well it was Andrei, again, who foiled his countryman tonight with some superb defensive play- he was also able to outshoot the great #8 3-0. This will be a tough series, no doubt, but if Markov plays like the Norris hopeful that he is (as he did tonight) then more results like we saw tonight wouldn't be out of the question.
Martin made the right call when he put MAB in for O'B as I think we can all see that the upside is far better than the downside. Sure Bergeron is weak defensively, but so is Ryan who in turn offers nothing, whatsoever, ever, going forward. Tonight Marc-Andre was able to play a pretty clean game (with less mistakes than usual) and was able to contribute in a positive manner. Not only did his presence on D allow for us to have 4 lines, but it also proved that he can play the position that he has been playing for 20+ years. Crisp passes, limited mistakes and the occasional solid play in his own end meant that Markov didn't have to end the game as worried as he had started it.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
I never was too worried that Jaro had all of a sudden lost his touch, but am sure glad that he found it tonight, when it really counted. In all he faced 47 shots (47!) and, somehow, made it look like we outplayed Washington. Despite a nervous first few minutes he was calm and seemed very much in control of his net. Performances like this are what we need to go anywhere this year and I am happy to say that he is one for one. Keep it up, it was fantastic.
The Caps came out all over us and dominated the first 20-30 minutes. Despite that, however, we were able to get the lead and eventually get out of that period of time all tied up. Montreal then, with about 5-10 to play in the 2nd, started taking over. For the rest of the game we were the better team and it was, thus, a shame when Backstrom scored a lucky one to start the third. The Habs, however, didn't let that get them down as they stuck to their gameplan. They kept working hard and that hard work would pay off with a goal. In OT the refs did their best to keep it fair (ie. give the advantage to the team tripping players on breakaways), but despite all of that Halak would resist. It seemed that each blown call resulted in a Caps chance that, thankfully, didn't end up in our net. Then, out of nothing, Spacek got the puck to his new favorite countryman (no offence Hammer) and a perfect shot against Theo (nice to see that Pleks can back up his 'not good goalie' talk with a goal) put the Habs in the driver's seat. This will be a tough series and it is far from over, but tonight, if anything, proved that the Caps are a beatable team, Ovechkin is a controllable force and that Theo is, indeed, not a Brodeur nor a Miller.