Win: 2-1 (SO)
Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Pavelec (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta (1, SO), (Gomez - SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Armstrong
After watching 4 pretty slow shootout attempts it was nice to see Gionta do exactly what I have been calling us to do for years; skate in with some speed. With the game-winning puck at his stick he decided to fly in on Pavelec and basically give the kid something he may not have seen much of. Brian was indeed too quick for the keeper as he made one move to his backhand and pretty much just skated by the baffled goalie. The puck was then into the roof of the net and the Habs, thank goodness, finally had their third win.
You are going to notice a very similar dome tonight, but I think that you would all agree it is well deserved. Mike was probably the player who stood out the least amongst the big three, but he still had quite a good game. He was always putting himself into the right spots and it seemed that scoring chances would have turned into goals had it not been for the hot play of the young Pavelec. He did pick up an assist and managed a whopping 7 shots on goal.
Brian Gionta - Game Puck
Brian scored a goal that would give us our first 40-minute lead of the year. He then sealed the deal with the shootout winner in (read above) spectacular fashion. Believe it or not Brian also took 7 shots on goal and took another 7 that even didn't reach the net; no wonder he scored.
Scott played a very good game in both ends and I actually felt that it was his play without the puck that was his strong suit. On numerous occasions he was able to win the puck from the opposition and create a chance for us. He also ended up scoring on a rocket shot in the shootout which was a nice way for him to end his game.
Jaro played quite a bit better on the PP tonight, but still couldn't score a goal. I do, however, believe that it is coming. He is playing really well with Hammer and seems to have developed a certain chemistry with some of our forwards; Gomez in particular. Despite Brunet's call for Bergeron on the top PP unit (in favour of Spacek) I would stick it out with the 40+ point-man despite the presence of the 30-point, until recently unsigned, Quebecois. Jaroalsv led the team with 27+ minutes of ice-time and put a very impressive 4 shots on net.
Hamrlik was about 2 inches away from winning the game in the dying seconds of OT, but unfortunately rang the puck off of the post after a great pass from Kostitsyn. Aside from that he played a very good game, particularly in the offensive zone. He, like Jaro, took 4 shots as the pair enjoyed quite a bit of time on the PP. It will be interesting to see if his PP ice-time will stay so high if they continue to fail to produce, but I don't for one second actually believe that any of our misfortunes are due to Hamrlik's play. In fact, I believe the opposite - if it weren't for Roman where would this team and offence and PP be...even worse no doubt.
Nothing spectacular tonight, but a whole lot of solid play. Jaro was never really called on to be too big (until the shootout), but he made sure to not let any weak ones in. He gave our team the chance to win and that is all we can really ask. 1 goal-against on 25 shots (2 in the shootout) against a team with Kovalchuk is quite the performance I think. After having not watched him for a while I was reminded of a few of his strengths tonight and a few of his differences from Price. In particular he moves laterally so well, plays the puck less behind the net than Price and, thus, gets himself into less trouble and I would say, the big one, he looks so focused and alert during any particular moment of the game.
This wasn't exactly a thriller, but in the end we got precisely what we needed. Yes, it was only a win against Atlanta, but if we can make sure to always beat the bad teams then we should be able to squeak out a playoff spot. That is mostly due to the fact that there are some seriously bad teams (ATL, TOR, NYI, FLA to name a few) that we'll get to play. It will, however, be a struggle to get points if we continue to put up less than 3 goals a game. The biggest problem, and I have touched on this before, is goal-scoring from our 'role' players. Right now they are all playing the role of goat more than defensive-specialist or energy-catalyst. Even a goal from a defenceman wouldn't hurt come to think about it. If the big three have a bad game (especially if they are on the same line together) we can probably forget a win and we may even be looking at a shutout against us. Maybe Markov's absence can make Gainey look for some help in the one area that I really think we need it: (apart from goaltending and defence that is) offence.
Tonight Pavelec was good and we almost couldn't beat him, but I never actually felt in danger in this one. There was no panic on the players' faces, no panic in Halak's play and thus no panic for me at home. All in all it was a confident game from our bunch in which we out-worked, out-chanced and out-played Atlanta. I have, however, said it before and that is - all you have to do is out-score a team to win. The Thrashers came as close as us to out-scoring us and that is a little unsettling. I am ready for Montreal to stop hitting posts, to stop having shots blocked and to stop missing the net; I am ready to see some goals.