Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Holtby (W)
Habs goalscorers: Moen, Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Johansson (2), Laich, Knuble
The save of the night had to be the team effort that duped Brad Watson into disallowing a goal that clearly was. It starts with Price who made the initial save then flopped back just enough to give the illusion of control. Subban, who batted the puck before the myopic ref would spot it. And Kostitsyn who knocked Johansson into the net before the puck could settle without doubt into the back of the netting. Unconventional. But a certain goal didn't end up on the scoreboard for this work. I suppose some credit must also go to the league for setting the ridiculous precedent that intention to blow a whistle is as good as blowing it.
Sloppy at times before the finish, but still the player who created the most danger in close on the Capitals net. e led the team in shots and his linemates were right there with him. I think he's stretched to play a top two centre's role, but when he was tasked with the lower docket, he was impressive again.
Popped off the screen early before his ice time was limited to shift Cammalleri around. Pyatt didn't look much like scoring, but neither did many Habs forwards. At the least, he was creating rebounds and forcing the puck to danger zones. A great game by Tom's standards.
Determined and dynamic. Eller continued his progression to important player for this team. His pass to Kostitsyn was a nice assist. His pass to Gomez was a pass too far. The next step is for him to find some selfish tendencies when in clear positions.
James had a good game at both ends, I thought. Some good moments on the PP, with a near goal in close. That goes with some moments of calm as well as at least two backchecking saves for the team. The signature moment for the man in the hockey mask was his shot block, going off in severe pain, and coming back before a shift was missed.
Subban had a tough assignment with Ovechkin. He handled it extremely well. I think we all thought we were getting an exciting and somewhat irresponsible offensive defender with PK. Instead, he continues to show his ability to learn and grow. I maintain that his defensive game is one of the biggest surprises of the season.
Carey Price - Game Puck
4 (or 5) goals. Some dicey puck handling. It wasn't a banner game for Carey, yet he makes the dome because he simply was the Canadiens best. The difference between Carey Price 2011 and 2009 is in the saves he can make after a bad bounce like goal #1 and a disallowed goal so close to the start. He not only settled but played a full half game of stunning shut out hockey. Oh, and his glove. The difference for the Canadiens is that Carey can carry a team close with a standard below his best.
Chances are we were due for this moment. The coach can be angry. But his team just played a playoff rival to a standstill on Saturday and had to face the hottest team in the East. They went down on some pretty bad luck within a minute and then ended up losing two important players (the Plekanec loss could weigh heavy on this teams hopes).
What I saw was a loss to a much better team on the night. Certainly a much better prepared team. Think of all the moments you saw Hal Gill beaten outside and tell me that wasn't a targeted strategy. The Capitals defence allowed those outside shots, but kept it to that. They limited the impact of Canadiens speed by forcing very early passes from defenders that failed most of the time.
The lesson to take from this game is twofold. First, losses will still happen, there is no need to despair. Second, the Canadiens are winning on the back of some pretty basic strategic maneuvers. An intensive examination by an opposing coach (such as the ones you typically see during a playoff series) will reveal weaknesses to exploit. Luckily, there's also a third lesson. The Canadiens once again have a wildcard in goal, a player who can disregard the momentum of the game and keep it close.