Win: 3-2 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Smith (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta, Moen, Gorges
Opposition goalscorers: Boedker, Torres
After the first period it was looking like Pleks could be hurt, it was looking like Desharnais was now our top centre. Tom came back to start the second, however, and did very well on one of his first shifts that period. He fore-checked hard and created confusion behind Smith's net. Then came his linemate Gionta (noticeably fueled by the prospect of having Pleks healthy after that scare) who made a fantastic play to strip Gordon of the puck and stun a flat-footed goalie. That goal changed the Habs's gameplan; it gave us a serious chance to win from that point on.
Pleks played a great first period, but really seemed to step it up after that as to show us all that he was fine. He was in on our first two goals; something that we have now come to expect. Losing him would be as bad as losing Markov or Price so I do hope that he is OK. He seems to have good chemistry with Gionta which may work well for Gomez's return as I really think Scott needs a fresh start, with 2 new faces on his flanks.
Brian Gionta - Game Puck
The skipper was the biggest part of our two first goals, our two best plays of the game. This was one of those games where you really noticed Gionta, a game where he led his team as a captain should. The points give him 10 on the year which isn't horrible considering the slow start that we had. I hope that Martin keeps him with Plekanec for now as we really need 3 strong lines and I think that the G-G combo has become too predictable for our opponents.
Cole impressed me with his speed and strength tonight. I normally hate seeing our players go to the outside of defenders as more often than not it ends in a turn-over. Tonight, however, in Erik's case he was beating his men, he was creating chances by going around the outside. He is still trying to find his true spot in our line-up, but the better he continues to play, the more options he gives his coach.
PK stayed out of trouble tonight in that he kept things clean in his own end and in that he didn't get sucked into any tussles or into taking any penalties. That meant that he could really focus on his game which is to win the puck back in our end and do something with it in the other two zones. He didn't factor too heavily on our goals, but he did end up +3 which is a number that I think speaks for itself.
Gorges has been better of late after a bit of a slow start. Tonight he played as a true #3 or even #2 and that is what we need, especially while Markov is out and 3 youngsters are in. He scored the OT winner which may go down as his only goal of the year, but wouldn't you rather that than the 5th in a 5-1 win or the lone goal in a 1-4 loss? I am not suggesting that he is clutch offensively, but it was nice to see him join in at exactly the right time, even if this is the only time we see it all year.
I thought that he made some poor choices handling the puck in the first period, but aside from that played a very solid game. Phoenix managed 34 shots, so to make 32 saves, on the road, is certainly a great performance. One thing that he did well tonight (and maybe this was purely in stark contrast to Smith) was that he found pucks well after they dropped below or near him. There weren't many second chances and that ends up really helping a fragile team like the Habs out and can very well make the difference between W and L.
It is always nice when a losing streak is stopped at 2. I have heard a lot about how we were all over Edmonton and could have or even should have won. Too many of those games in a row, however, is a Florida or Columbus type of thing. We have to win the majority of our games some how, some way. Tonight we found a way to walk out of their with the full two points all the while staying out of any real trouble penalty- or injury-wise. Phoenix aren't the most exciting team to watch, but I do respect the clean type of hockey that they play as it means (unlike games against Boston) you don't really have to worry about losing guys to dirty and unnecessary plays. In fact, this is a team that we match up well against and we proved that by matching them step for step throughout the whole game. It is hard to say that either we played better than them or they better than us, nope, it was just a good old (used to be called a draw) even game. It is good, however that we got the extra point as we need it badly.
We're entering an interesting stretch over the next little while. It is a stretch that has us playing more games than we have been doing and a period in which we may get as healthy as we'll be all year. Getting Markov back will be a huge boost. I am sure that a lot of people have forgotten just what Andrei can bring to this team, but I am sure that within mere days of his return they will be reminded. Until then we have to hold the fort and win games like we did tonight. Each loss makes it 2 more games back to where you want to be, so let's hope the Habs take the easy route and win each of their upcoming games.