Loss: 2-3 (SO)
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Enroth (W)
Habs goalscorers: Pacioretty (1, SO), Pouliot (Desharnais, Plekanec - SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Stafford, Pominville (Vanek, Ennis, Gerbe, Hecht - SO)
I was hoping for a defining goal, save or drawn penalty in the last little while, but without the win it is hard to play the 'crucial-moment' card. So, instead I will go for our nicest goal, Pouliot's. A great pass by the Wis to Desh sent the Habs away. The speedy forward made a nice move to get around his cover and then floated a nicely timed backhand pass to Pouliot who had a wide-open cage to hit.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
Pleks capped a nice game with a goal that doesn't count. What did count, however, was his play throughout the first 65 minutes of the night. He found a wide-open MaxPac to start his night off and followed that up with play after play of smart hockey. I noticed a few great back-checks that not only led to break-ups, but also to Habs rushes.
Max scored a real goal and another one tonight. His goal was a goalscorer's goal as he went hard to the net and finished the job that he had started. He used good speed and hockey-sense throughout the game to make things happen for his linemates. He was separated towards the end from Pleks, but I think that that had more to do with getting the other lot going rather than it being a message for his group.
It continues for Ben as he made the right play to be at the net, around his defender when Desharnais was going in hard. I would have liked to have seen him score on the shootout and do hope that he tries a new move next time. Generally it is hard to score on the same move more than once as that goalie, if well prepared, should have that move at the forefront of his memory.
PK carried the biggest load tonight as he played nearly half an hour of hockey. It is the right move to do as he is young and full of energy and, for the most part, has been playing as one of our top-2 for quite some time. The best part about his game tonight (as is the case on most nights) was that he was playing hard in all 3 zones. He doesn't just log the ice time, no, he certainly makes the most of it as he is at full-tilt on each and every shift.
The Hammer and the Wiz have had better games and it was hard to see what Nash was really all about. So, it was between Picard and Weber who I felt were more or less equal. I went with Alex for three reasons though. The first was that he logged more ice-time, with 6 extra minutes coming at ES. The second was that he didn't take a penalty; not that I blame every penalty taker, but I do applaud those who stay clean on most nights. The last reason was that I thought he played a slightly cleaner game in our own end, as clean, or just a bit less, than Subban in that regard.
A win would have been nice, but the Habs let Buffalo come at Price in the last two periods and it caught up with us. He got some nice bounces, and posts, and also made some very key saves as I think he basically stole us a point. The shootout was a bit disappointing as Carey was beaten three times in a spot that must have been identified by the Sabres. If that is the case I hope that we have already identified this area and will continue to work on it.
Our first period was a great one as we were all over Buffalo. It was probably the best 20 minutes that I have seen from the Habs in 2011 as it was chance after chance and, best of all, there wasn't even a sniff from the Sabres. We fell into that old trap, though, of great period, not a big enough lead. We should have put the game away at that point or at least played like that in the second until we had at least a 3-goal lead. It wasn't that we started to play too badly, but it certainly went their way from period-2 onwards. We had our chances towards the end and in OT, but we lacked the conviction that we had shown early on. The shootout was long and we had a chance to win, but it was Buffalo that seemed more prepared. They went for similar spots over and over and we seemed to be all over the place. Kostitsyn, Pouliot, Wis, Pyatt, Gionta and Gomez all had pretty bad attempts and have me wondering if this is something that is ever really practiced? I would hope that a coach would practice this on a regular basis because, as silly as it is, there are points to be had there. Us, for example have 3 less points (2-3) than Buffalo (5-0) in as many attempts, yet I believe we have scoring and goaltending to match them.
Next up is a trip out west to play three Canadian teams. Vancouver will be tough, Edmonton should be a win and Calgary will be a fun game in which getting points may be forgotten. I for one love real outdoor games (not ones in warm American cities) and hope that the Habs can improve to 2-0 in them. The last time it was Zednik's 2 goals (the first ever player to score outdoors) that led the way; who will it be this time? That game will be enjoyable, win or lose, so I'll call the trip a success if we bag at least 3 points.