Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Ward (L), Legace
Habs goalscorers: Markov, A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn, Metropolit (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Sutter
Gomez took a penalty when the Habs were up 2-0 and added 2 minutes to the call when he mouthed-off at the ref. That meant the Habs had 4 minutes to kill and that the 'Canes had ample time to get right back into the game. Before the first 2 minutes had elapsed Carolina scored which ensured that they would get another two full minutes with an extra man. It was the Habs, however, that had the next best chance. Plekanec led a 3-on-1 rush and Markov ended it by ringing the puck off the crossbar. Then the Hurricanes came down our way on a 3-on-1 of their own. They threatened to tie the game at two, but it was Halak that had the last word as he made an incredible blocker (or shaft) save on Matt Cullen. Disaster averted, game won.
Within 10 minutes Pleks had 3 points and I was actually wondering if Sittler's 10 in 1 game had a chance of falling (he was on pace for 18). Well, that was all Tom got tonight, but he did play quite well for the balance of the game. His 36 assists now place him second in the league and his 43 points place him in the top 10. He played like our best, most complete and most confident player tonight as he has done for most of the year.
Call it coincidence, but after Gomez's penalty he picked it up. In all he also picked up 3 assists as he was able to find Metro with 2 very good passes and sent Pleks up the ice after he came out of the box. He may not be the #1 centre we had hoped for, but with Pleks playing the way he is I can say that Scott is a fine #2. Tonight was his first chance to play with Pouliot and they did an OK job; he does, however, miss Gionta like crazy.
From waivers to occasional player to 4th-liner to prominent 3rd-liner Glen has done well. Tonight, before the midway point of the season, he chipped in his 9th and 10th goals. He showed again tonight that he has some good touch around the net and that he has hands that you wouldn't expect. Martin took a leap of faith when he took Metro off the PK (where most of us would assume a player like him should play) and put him on the PP - until now I can't say that I argue one bit with that call.
Andrei got the ball rolling tonight with a perfectly timed pinch and a well taken pass. That was his 3rd goal and 4th point in his 3 games since his injury. His value to the team is evident now more than ever as he once again was our best defender. I did notice a couple of giveaways/miscues, but overall he did do quite well for a guy who has missed so much hockey. I liked how he worked with Spacek and can only hope (and assume) that that pairing remains upon Hammer's return.
In a game when we let up 47 shots I decided to go with offence rather than defence for this dome spot as I felt all defenders were bailed out by Halak more than usual anyway. He only picked up a single 2nd assist in this game, but did do a very good job on our Power-Plays all night. Once again he didn't look too different from the rest of our defenders in our own end as he continues to hold his own.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
Another great game from Halak as he stopped 46 of 47 shots - that takes his numbers to 9-5, .923, 2.57. His wish was to be a starter and one has to wonder if the Habs have granted him that wish. He may be beating the weaker teams, but considering that he has faced over 135 shots in his last 3 games and only let up 4 goals I can say that he isn't getting easy wins. He was our best player tonight as this game could have, believe it or not, gone the other way. Better goaltending by Ward and average goaltending by Halak could have easily made this about a 3-3 toss up. I really liked the way he attacked shots tonight and how he was always in the right position. I would continue to ride Jaro while he is hot as it seems that, once again, we are asking the oldest question in Montreal: who is our #1?
Things are going well for the Habs and this is a great way to start the Christmas (2 day) break. We have one of the hottest goalies in the league, 2 of the hottest defencemen (Bergeron is leading the NHL in goals), one of the hottest passers and, believe it or not, just about the best PK and PP combo. When you add it all up you have to wonder a) why we are still struggling to get into a playoff spot? and b) can we keep it up? Tonight showed that even with all of those things clicking we do have deficiencies, though, as our defence and coverage in general is not where it should be and our offence is good, but we do lack the balance of a great team. The positives, however, are too hard to ignore and the fact that all of this coincides with the return of our best player makes me wonder if we can indeed be a great team. Let's not forget that right now we are missing two major pieces in Gionta and Hamrlik that would immediately address my two areas of concern; we could be even better. So, tonight showed me that we are good, but things may not always be this rosy. It also showed me that there is a better team in us than the one that we saw tonight. With 4 games to play in December I am curious to see if we'll meet our goal of 7 more points, because even though we have won 3 straight we can't forget what preceded those games - let's not get wrapped up in the winning and forget the losing.