Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (L), Johnson
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec, Moen, Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: None
Some great saves and some very pretty goals to go with all the little things done right. The play that reflected the Canadiens resolve in this game more than any other was the patience that Carey Price showed on his save on the very first Pittsburgh PP. Carey dealt with the bad bounce, trusted his positioning and reactions and just waited out James Neal. A goal would have changed the game. The save ensured the Canadiens could just stick to details and run out the clock.
Mike Cammalleri – Game Puck
Cammalleri was on and focused. You could see that from the moment they showed him stepping on for warm up. This was the Cammalleri of the 2010 playoffs again. Quick to react to loose pucks and usually to them first. He really set the tone for the quick put down in this game. His pass on the Pleks goal was outstanding, his own goal was pretty too. Besides that, he was always backchecking and often slowing the play down in his own end before creating the outlets from the zone.
See Cammalleri above. Tomas played just as well as his partner in most aspects of the game today. His goal should bring hope that he's returning to his dynamic best, as it was a slick goalscorer vintage. He too was a defensive pest and key to ushering Pittsburgh into dead ends.
This game was won early and so early plays have big significance. Early on, Gomez was on the ball (puck actually, I guess) as he zipped around the Pittsburgh zone winning and keeping possession. His play on Goal #2, the tipping point goal was just classic Gomez – a puck battle won and a pass to space he knew his player would reach before anyone else. A good game for Scott, together with his linemates.
I thought the whole team played well. But Hamrlik and Wisniewski played the bulk of the minutes against Pittsburgh's remaining star, Jordan Staal. I thought the Staal line did stall tonight and that's largely because they took ill advised outside shots instead of showing patience. Credit to Hamrlik and Wisniewski for being tight on them all the time. Credit to Hammer for blocking 7 shots all himself.
Don't ask me why Pittsburgh's players and fans suddenly took interest in targeting Subban when they realised they had slept through 30 minutes of play. I may have missed the reason. Subban, though, didn't take the bait (unless you count rushing the length of the ice and being penalized for carrying too much momentum). Earlier in the season he would have been baited. Subban growing up has been a big story of the season and the mature PK gives the Habs a formidable defensive player at the back – another reason the Pens looked to have nothing going.
Never in question (except maybe for a split second before the post did its job). Carey played calmly and gelled seamlessly with his defence once again. There were a couple of big saves, but most of the difference came from the calm he created for his partners on the team. Pittsburgh had no answer for this.
This game wasn't a "classic", or so Ron MacLean signed off. But you know what, this game was the classic item on every Canadiens fan's wish list. Most times the team wins by taking an early lead, fans complain about sitting back and letting the other team come on. If the team wins with a comeback, the complaint is about a bad start. This game offers no room for complaints. The team started well, scored early, scored again, then again, didn't take penalties, defended well, let up few shots of consequence, shut out the opposition, never had a late scare, and so on.
The CBC crew insinuated that Montreal had perfected this art, but for me this might be the first evidence of them playing this solid a game against a team that's still trying to win (sorry Florida). I think the team has been building to a game like this, but it's nice to see it. I was also happy to see that Pittsburgh thought better of making this a Bostonian nightmare by playing hockey right to the end. There was a brief period where I thought Subban might be punched with gloved fists for the last 20 minutes.
On the CBC coverage of the Pacioretty hit: I am a little underwhelmed. I know they are saving their party line for Donald S (?!?) Cherry, but they could have shared an opinion. Bylsma's interview was interesting, as he's always worth listening to. Ron Wilson's interview was predictable and only reinforced the need for the NHL to turn away from dinosaurs in positions of consequence. I guess we'll see where they really stand after the Leafs go down to the Sabres in the first.