Loss: 2-3 (OT)
Habs Goalie:Price, Budaj (L)
Opposition Goalie: Anderson (W)
Habs goalscorers: Subban, Galchenyuk
Opposition goalscorers:Toronto Goal Judge, Conacher, Turris
There's no question for me that the play of the game was our first goal. It took a while coming, but it was a the pay off of much patience and strategic play from Montreal Someone did their homework. Karlsson was on the wing that was attacked, and Plekanec knew he could go board side without threat of a check. Gaining lots of speed he negated the Ottawa D-man and got the other defenders turned around. Subban left a critical gap between himself and defender and received the pass and without hesitation picked the high corner. It was the kind of deconstruction of the Ottawa system that we'll need to see many more times if this isn't kicked to the golf course.
Halpern was a great addition to the lineup. You could say he was replacing Ryan White, but he was oh so much better than Brian Gionta has been in these playoffs and in so many games this season too. When good things were happening I was having to remind myself who wore the unfamiliar 24. He set up Galchenyuk for the second goal very sweetly and I'd like to see that pair remain intact.
It was the beginning of what we need to see from Pleks. He did make the play of the game happen, which is really his even strength entry onto the scene. Otherwise, I was impressed with the work his line was doing in both ends of the ice (despite what the final few minutes of stats will leave as a legacy).
This kid is being underused. That much is clear. What, at this point is there really left to protect him from. He has already been part of one of the worst games in Habs playoff history. I think the evidence weighs in to say he's more likely to do something positive and gain than lose a career over turnover guilt now. Unleash Galchenyuk a bit more next game and see Ottawa squirm like they did in Game 1.
Josh Gorges - Game Puck
I noted on a few occasions how much Josh Gorges was talking to his teammates. After last game, it was clear that this team needed someone to take charge on the ice (and that it should not be led by the actions of an angry Subban or a slightly off-kilter Ryan White. Gorges seemed to take the bull by the horns and fill the role. What's more, he played so much better than he has been playing on so many recent nights. I commend him for the initiative and turnaround in form.
I am not sure I noticed Markov much at all in this one. But perhaps that is a good thing. At his very best, Markov is the only person you notice, but lately he has not been noticed for the best elements of his game. This game was a very tight effort from the defensive crew and I can safely say that Subban was not as his responsible best. I must only conclude then that Markov was there to right the ship and keep Ottawa shots before minute 52 (oh, sorry not a shot, minute 59) from troubling his goalie. On the occasions I did notice him, he was at his marshaling best. I am very heartened by this turn in form too. Next, a PP display to really quiet his critics?
I can't say that Carey was in Vezina form, it was clear that he was fighting for the saves tonight. But what more can you ask of a goalie really than to make the first save when it comes his way. The first goal against was not his fault (and I don't say that lightly). I am disappointed that he didn't somehow land on the puck before it fell to Conacher, but alas, it was the first shot from a stick he allowed past only 3 periods after serious questions bubbled up about his taste for this kind of thing. It was hard for him to go down at the end of the game the way he did. Budaj was not ready, and Ottawa knew a cold goalie was vulnerable in the early minutes. It was just another point of luck in their favour. If Carey is indeed injured, I expect Budaj to be better than the final lowlight of the night suggests.
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This is why you just can't give two easy wins to your opponent. Because sometimes you can do everything right, not allow any good chances, not allow any goals, and then bam with minutes to go someone kicks in a goal and despite the fact everyone with eyes can see it, the archaic system of NHL decision-making holds it up to be a valid goal. Then the downhill slope that follows is anyone's game.
My comment on the sham that was the goal decision is this: why do we even bother? If that goal which was so clearly a kicking motion cannot be denied, then why do the league keep up the charade that someone sensible is actually making a review of events.I would be capable of eventually finding forgiveness for a ref who has a second to decide. But I cannot forgive a man on a monitor who has the benefit of every technology. This is what it might have felt like had FIFA had goal review and just decided it would be better if Germany's goal line was 2 feet further in the net than it was painted.
The Canadiens were robbed, but it is not the only reason why they are down 3-1 in the series. It is not even the foremost reason. These events have to be expected in a league where the people at the highest level can justify spending hours writing rules, weeks enforcing them and then a couple of months putting them aside while the teams vie for the only prize that matters anyway.
I have to be honest folks, it will be hard for the Habs to find a way back in here. Sure, I will hope against hope and nothing is finished until that final excruciating siren, but let's be honest, bad luck (and bad decisions) are not done with. This team that played a great and efficient game tonight still only broke the Ottawa system down enough to put two goals past the suddenly best-all-time Florida Panther reject. I can see them rallying the spirit for a win, but aren't the faults (the lack of imagination, the same old willingness to be fended out of the offensive zone in spring games, the defensive panics), these can't be banished fully for three whole games can they. The team couldn't even banish them for 8 minutes, then a mere 3 in OT. For it to happen, really happen (the three consecutive wins, that is) will mean this game in duplicate, but with a third goal coming on that PP or at a similar point in time. From 3-2 down, the team that will have perpetrated two straight games of this kind will have momentum and the chip on the shoulder might well help in Game 6 (hopefully they'll kick a few past Anderson). If there's a Game 7 in Montreal, it will be a streaking Habs in front of a frenetic crowd against the team that blew the 3-1 lead. It could happen.
I guess keep this thing away from the video judges and it just might work.