Win: 3-2 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Biron (L)
Habs goalscorers: Spacek, Moen, Hamrlik
Opposition goalscorers: Tambellini (2)
I must tell you one thing; I am certainly not getting tired about writing about OT winners in this section. Tonight the best play, our best goal, once again, came in OT. The play started when Pleks carried the puck up the right-wing. He did well to get by two Islander defenders (one of them being All-Star Mark Streit) with some pretty nifty moves. That created a 2-on-1 situation with his countryman Hamrlik. I was thinking shot and I am sure Biron was too. In fact, the lone defender back thought he made a pass impossible as he conceded the shot by laying on the ice to take away the potential of Hammer receiving the puck. That, however, didn't stop Plekanec, who fooled everyone by saucering a pass up and over the out-stretched defenceman. Hamrlik took the pass well and instantly roofed one up over an over-committed Biron.
Mike continued his strong play tonight despite scoring no goals. Don't, however, let that fact fool you as he was once again the top player on his line. He was instrumental in our second goal (which more or less bounced off Moen) as he out-worked the defenceman in the corner to centre the puck. He led the team with 4 shots and almost scored on a couple of them. I noticed some great cuts into the middle tonight which is the mark of a true goal-scorer.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
Pleks had had a pretty good game by the time that OT was starting that I was already considering 'Game-Puck' status and had pretty much penciled him into the dome. Overall he ended with 3 shots, over 19 minutes of ice-time and was over 50% in the face-off circle. It was, however, that play in OT that sold it to me. Getting around the Islander players with such ease and making such a perfect pass were both world-class plays.
The biggest surprise of the year continues to surprise. His best play tonight was his assist on Spacek's goal. He kept working hard to get free and eventually made a perfect, cross-slot, pass to Spacek who went upstairs on Biron. Tonight marks Glen's third (in only 6 games!) multi-point game of the year and he now is better than point per game. In fact he is 4th on our team in scoring, tied with Gionta; who would have thought!
Now some of you will cry foul for this selection because of the giveaway. Yes, Jaro made a horrible play that resulted in the tying goal; there is no excuse for that. Well, to me, that was balanced by his first goal as a Hab; a truly great play. So, if that leaves him at neutral, how was the rest of his game? I think he was pretty good for the rest actually. In all there were 4 shots on net (11 attempted) and a very solid (despite the mistake) 24 minutes. I felt he was in control in our own end (again, forget the mistake for now) and did a very good job at getting things going offensively.
Like Pleks, Roman had a solid game until OT. He was around for Spacek's goal (but played no major part) and was there for the blunder (but can't be blamed). So, like Jaro, lets look at his game beyond those 2 plays. There was 25 minutes (including almost 5 on the PK), 4 blocked-shots (team-high) and, of course, the OT heroics. If there is one thing that the former 1st overall pick is capable of it is the ability to step his game up to superstar level from time to time. That goal, tonight, was another example of the true worth of our stand-in #1.
At times Jaro was not quite as solid as he has been over the past week, but at other times he was at his best. He could have had the first goal and got lucky with an early whistle on what could have been another. The second goal, however, was a hard one for him and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt there. So, I would say he had a good to great game. His rebound-control was on, his angles were good, his movement was quick and all of that added up to another win and a very respectable .935 save percentage on the night.
Montreal didn't take control of this game as well as they had done last week against New York. They outplayed the Islanders early, but were unable to go up by 1. Never, however, was I worried that we would go down in this game as we were playing a pretty solid, mistake-free game. I felt that the chances weren't there as much as they had been in the past few games despite getting 30+ shots. Gomez's line didn't click as well as they have been and Latendresse, Kostitsyn, Pacioretty and D'Agostini all looked average for most of the game. The D, while playing well in their own end also weren't doing much offensively on a consistent basis. All of that added up to a 2-2 tie against one of the league's worst. In OT, however, you could see the confidence and with it came the speed. Speed has won us games this past week and that is again what won it for us tonight. It seems that this year the Habs aren't just being called a fast team, but, for the first time in years, we are playing as one.