Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Lindback (L)
Habs goalscorers: Bourque, Gallagher, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Palat, Carle
It was bound to happen, an Easter dinner ending around 7 pm meant I would have to miss the first several minutes (something allowed to my family given the 2-0 series lead). Listening tin the car, the sounds of the Bell Centre never subsided after the anthem and the call from the announcer seemed even more surreal. A goal? Even without seeing it, I knew what it meant to the team that likes their leads. It was the defining moment of the game for the Habs as they halted any notions Tampa had of imposing their mark on the game. Then to see the goal, it only enhanced the appreciation. This was spelled out from the street hockey yard, and caught Tampa on the wrong song sheet completely. The pass/clearance as well weighted as any David Beckham backfield lob and the man on the trigger (and man of the moment) never left doubt. A goal of beauty.
Rene BourqueThe player that was traded a hundred times in our minds is making us all question ourselves now. This is Rene Bourque, though, isn't it. We all love him when he is streaking, but only wonder if he'll ever find his way back to streaking when he slumps. Realize that he scored his 3rd goal in a bit more than two playoff games after a season of 9 in 63. But having a rough season has nothing to do with domes, or even the playoffs. In fact, I'd rather his 7 good games come after the charade is over and the real contest begin. In his full confident flight, Bourque just continues to show up Tampa for lack of defensive speed and depth, and he and his linemates will be a major topic of consternation for John Cooper right up till puck drop tonight.
Brendan GallagherIf Gallagher were a lesser player, we'd call a game like this his career game or something like that. He was omnipresent, making plays, scoring goals, disrupting Tampa's organization. As it's Gallagher, we just come to expect a game like this every few times he suits up. Tampa just has no answer for a little guy who they so often count out, but who comes back to take punishment and mete out his own. He has been a key to this series as I expected he would be. The only question that remains around Gallagher is whether he could or should play more, or perhaps that it's better to keep his low, but high octane minutes just where they are, and keep a know a good thing when you've got it.
Tomas PlekanecAs Plekanec's mandate is so clearly tied to Steven Stamkos, it is impressive that he finds the moments to get shots, chances and goals for himself and his line. In this contest, it was the turn of the Plekanec trio to take the dominant turn in possession and drive the offense. In fact, were it not for a certain number 8, there would have been even more quality at the Gauchetiere end. Steven Stamkos himself, still a factor, has had to accept that a tenacious Plekanec will mean more passing and less free shots than he is used to. For the Habs, this has meant a lower threat level most of the time and mission accomplished in their games so far.
Josh GorgesOn for every goal for and against in this one, he was a lightning rod for action it seems. Sometimes this just happens. I'm not worried about Josh Gorges one way or the other because of it. In fact, from watching, I thought he played a very sound game. Analysis of chances and shots does back this up, as he looks good on every count. Perhaps the main benefit of a solid Josh Gorges in uniform can be seen in the fact he frees Subban to go out an play games that earn the description below.
PK Subban - Game PuckThis was another mammoth effort from PK Subban. The first assist he provided on the play of the game would be enough to earn consideration for player of the game, but he really sealed the deal with a moment of signature Subban, the Gallagher goal. A figure skating commentator would be proud to watch the footwork at play on the goal, whether we're talking about the quick turns, the skates securing puck control or the defense of his line around the net that led to an airborne Palat and an undefended pass. On defense, I saw a lot to like with Subban again, as his confidence shines through against these Lightning forwards. No where more so than batting the infamous no-goal out of the net before it went in again. Before this series, the calls for him to outperform Hedman were loud, and so far PK has put in the better performance.
Carey PriceThe best goalies all have games like this. Where they quietly keep the score just close enough for long enough to allow their team the time to work the other end. His best saves to me came when the Habs were up 1-0, but struggling to find the next one. Even though they eventually conceded, it was well into the second period by that point. As for the goal that was called back, let's credit Price on a couple of counts. First off, he made the initial save on a net charge and was up quickly to play the next pucks. If it ever crossed his mind to also bump Killorn on his exit from the net, he may also have saved a goal on a different technicality. The only thing he did wrong was create a debate that still rages at the anti-Habs headquarters at CBC by recovering to play the puck, when a lesser goalie would have laid at the side of the net and picked up the interference call from the original charge on him.
Boxscores with bite
Apologies for the delay on this one. Easter games present their challenges. I mentioned the trouble I had even trying to watch the thing... Tonight will be better.
Late or not, what to say about the Habs, though? This was the third win and the third different method they have chosen to get the points. I've missed saying it all season, but it makes me more comfortable to know that this team can win in a variety of different ways.
In Game 3, the home team used the opening moments of shock to get their lead and put into implementation their well-worn plan for playing with that first goal. But adversity was answered too. Tampa came back and were even getting the feel of the game midway through the second. And despite what CBC says, it was the Canadiens determination and not a lucky reprieve that led them back to control. After all, it was less than two minutes after Tampa's supposed lead that the Canadiens were dominating the other end and parking a free pass into the Tampa goal. Once again, Tampa did not have the answer to Montreal's resilience and strike from anywhere, anytime ability.
As for that disallowed goal, I'll say a few things:
1) Just like everyone else, I didn't know about the obscure rule that was quoted on interference. If they'd said that a goalie instigating contact meant an automatic goal, I'd have been just as accepting
2) Once I did hear the rule, however, I fully understood the call and did not spend the rest of the night looking for reasons to overturn it, at least to taint the winner.
To me, Hockey Night in Canada on CBC the other night disgraced themselves. They were still arguing a Tampa lead well into the second game of the night. RDS had a referee quickly to explain. CBC only too satisfied to have something to talk about other than the fact they have been a bit wrong about PK Subban for some time now.
With one Canadian team in the playoffs, a Habs fan might have been mistaken in thinking that he would be treated to some coverage on the network in their last hurrah. But instead, when the players are off the ice we watch Don Cherry talk about international games from two decades earlier (and anything but the game being played) and then this argument instead of a commentary on how PK Subban was putting in a dominating performance.
Bah to them. If every Canadiens wins hurts for each of them to watch, I will enjoy it the more. I hope they're all squirming by the end of it tonight.