Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Miller (W)
Habs goalscorers: A. Kostitsyn (2), Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: Sekera, Kaleta, Kennedy, MacArthur
18 seconds after Buffalo took a a 1-goal lead the Habs answered. It was, once again, Plekanec's line that supplied the goal that tied the game. This goal was started by the hard work of Cammalleri who rushed towards the Sabres' blue-line after having just won the puck. Waiting there was Andrei Kostitsyn who promptly returned a pass to Mike after having just received one himself. Cammalleri took the pass from behind himself very well and then showed us all that incredible wrist-shot that he has, beating Miller cleanly on the blocker-side.
Mike played a big part in all 3 of our goals as he not only got points on the last two, but also served up a brilliant dumby on Kostitsyn's first. He was clicking with his linemates tonight so much so that it was shame whenever we had to watch the other three lines at work. With 18 goals in the bank surely I can't be the only one who thinks that he may just add more to Team Canada than say a Ryan Smyth or a Shane Doan.
I think we over-taxed Tomas a bit tonight. He was wonderful, yet again, on the PK, but when you ask your #1 centre to play 6 minutes short-handed (most in the second half of the game) you may realize why he has nothing left to give on a game-ending PP. I love the fact that we have a player that can do it all, but his teammates could really help him (and the team) out by taking fewer dumb penalties. As for numbers he was a star tonight - 2 assists and 23-3 on face-offs.
Andrei Kostitsyn - Game Puck
Andrei is probably playing some of the best hockey of his career right now and that probably has a lot to do with the fact that he is playing with 2 great linemates. Many people would have had him traded, sent-down, benched or, at the very least, placed on a lower line. Martin, however, listened to us when we insisted that he had to be on a top-2 line and that he, even when he isn't scoring, is a much bigger threat than any of Latendresse, Pacioretty, D'Agostini or Lapierre will ever be. Tonight his hot play brought his points total to a respectable 19 as he added 2 more goals and an assist.
Marc-Andre is not only holding his own in his own end, but he is actually doing quite well. He would be hard-pressed to ever be a top-4 defensive guy on this team, but I do think he has the potential to be a top-6 (ahead of 2 of O'Byrne, Gill and Mara). Tonight I actually thought he was a top-4 in our own end anyway. Add to that the fact that he is likely going to be our #2 offensively and all of a sudden we have a decent #5 on our hands. Tonight he supplemented his strong defensive play with some more good PP work as he was in the mix for both goals.
Spacek was very good in our own end tonight, particularly at blocking shots. He may have posted 4 less than team-leader Ryan O'Byrne, but he also put forth a solid all around effort on top of the BS (Blocked Shots). In a game like this, against his former team, when he is playing well I actually think it is silly to use him for only 18 minutes while over-taxing other key defenders. Markov's imminent return may have a big impact on Spacek's role and ice-time, but I do believe that he has proven himself as a very capable #3 or #4.
Halak, I felt, could have done a bit better tonight. This was a rare off-night from Miller and I felt we didn't take advantage. The Habs did take quite a few penalties, and two of their goals (essentially) were scored with the extra man, but Jaro probably could have been stronger to not let at least one of those in. I wouldn't say that he was bad tonight, but he wasn't good either. For that reason I take my chance that Price continues his hot play and stops more than 85% of the shots directed towards him.
A bit like Saturday night in that we were in this game the whole way and then we put ourselves in a unnecessary hole. In all we gave Buffalo 6 PP chances (50% more than we earned) and that included a 5-on-3. Two of the penalties were by O'Byrne who seems to be more likely the player we saw for 82 games last year than the one we saw for 4 games in September. He is having trouble keeping up with the play and his methods of compensation are costing the team. 6 minutes by Metropolit, especially after the penalty on Saturday that led to the OT goal, is a bit too much. He is a valuable player, but not so valuable that he deserves his spot regardless of how he plays. If stupid penalties continue then you can rest assured his ice-time will drop, as it did tonight. The Habs seem to have a big problem as of late and that is the fact that we are out-fouling other teams; this is happening on a near-nightly basis. We are having a hard enough time drawing penalties that is seems stupid to give the refs so many 'no-choice' calls to make against us.
This week may be a bit of an uphill battle to get to the .500 mark, but if what I am hearing is true, and Markov is indeed almost ready to return then I really think we may be able to turn some of these 1-goal losses into wins.