Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Lundqvist (L)
Habs goalscorers: Hamrlik, Plekanec, Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Boyle, Zuccarello
PK Subban came alive on the PP tonight. Of all the elements of the game we probably were expecting to see after his junior and AHL careers, this has taken the longest to come. With Wisniewski being guarded, PK can get the clear shots. On one early opportunity he showed that he's not just a pretty face though, a he faked that clear shot and instead picked out a fully open Plekanec. Pleks had a little work to do to control the pass, but otherwise had a gaping net to shoot at. Beautiful. Pierre Houde said it was flashes of Brisebois and Markov? I think he meant Markov.
Noticeable on nearly every shift. he once again led in shots, but that's no barometer for Brian - he always does at least that. What I particularly enjoyed was his ability to shake defenders like "all-star" Staal with ease to win deep puck and keep the play alive.
I wouldn't go quite to the lengths of some professional commentators to heap on praise, but Darche played well. He was critically involved in the two quick comeback goals and made sure the PP was outstanding all night through. He played a decent few shifts at ES too, though his best work came on 5 minutes of well-earned PP action.
Whatever happens next practice, someone make sure Andrei gets some time to chat to Jacques Martin. Whatever was said seemed to work as Andrei was back to finding his old form. His goal was a predator's goal and a critical one in retrospect. The best part is he had better chances than that. I think he'll appreciate both the goals and the vote of confidence from the 500 or so fans who bother to pay Bell to choose 3 stars.
PK Subban - Game Puck
Some outstanding moments at either end of the ice tonight for PK. We've noted the play of the game. The PP was eye-catching all game and PK was a big part of that as he kept hard passes in, distributed and even got shots through on Lundqvist. At the back, he was a welcome change from the easy dump out as he took responsibility several times to get the puck all the way out of the trouble areas.
Playing the most minutes on a team he wasn't even a part of three weeks ago. this is impressive stuff. Critical to PP success, despite not a shot from his stick, keeping the puck in and offering the omnipresent threat to open space for others. His defending (apart from that crazy late pass) was mostly sound as well, and I've started to appreciate his stand up checks on players who used to go around previous Habs.
Earning a dome tonight with some game savers along the way. It was a game full of everything for Carey. Great highlight saves, great positional saves, that good puck handling Subdoxtastic raved about, the questionable puck handling we ranted about and another win celebration. This wasn't the ice cold Carey of November, but the way he battled for a win, especially late, who really cares?
Another early hole didn't get the team down, as they continue to play comeback kids for the New Year. I don't like the recipe, but if their answer to an early deficit is always an impressive surge as it was tonight, I won't question the approach.
The most impressive element of the win tonight for me was the way the PP really seemed to thrive. Those I watched the game with at home were particularly taken with the attractive passing and the productive tactics the Canadiens employed. Really, were it not for Lundqvist (and I'm not just saying this) the game would have been done and dusted well before the end of 2 periods.
The third period is going to produce a lot of rants (I write this instead of watching the spew from l'Antichambre) because the Canadiens appeared to lose it. But one could look at it another way. The Habs have to learn to hang on under pressure, just as they needed to get more experience on coming from behind. The win is positive. The fact they hung on is positive. Yes, we'd all prefer a stroll to the finish with a dominant display of blue line stopping checking, but in close games, it sometimes just won't happen.
It's especially positive as a win in light of the opponent. I said the other day, and I don't want to retract, that the Habs will be in a fight for the playoffs. I predict that one of the teams will be the Rangers. Points from teams in direct rivalry for those last points for post-season entry are like gold. This may yet be a clincher if we look back in April.