Loss: 1-2 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Brodeur (W)
Habs goalscorers: Gomez
Opposition goalscorers: Zajac, Parise
Tonight, with only a few seconds to go Halak made 2 more incredible saves to send this game to OT. He, like his counterpart, were the only reasons that neither team managed more than 1 goal in regulation. Jaro made some nicer saves throughout the game (some quite spectacular ones), but those two, at the end, just seemed to be the most crucial due to the timing of them.
Scott played very well tonight and was rewarded with a pretty easy goal as the puck just sort of sat for him in front of an open net. Beside the goal, however, he played his old team well as he was probably our best puck-rusher all night and certainly looked the most dangerous of all of our forwards. He chipped in with some pretty decent supporting stats too as he took 5 shots and was 61% successful in the face-off circle.
Brian was another former Devil who played well against his old team. It was somewhat surprising, therefore, for me to learn that he actually took 0 shots as I thought he was one of our best weapons all game long. A goal or some better chances on the PP wouldn't have gone a miss, but I am sure, like line #1 in December, he is wondering why his line has to do it all.
It is true that line #2 has been our biggest weapon since Andrei went down, but at least tonight the 1st line showed signs of waking up. The best of the trio (or duo...) was Pleks as he was the feistier, more dangerous player. He also had quite a strong game defensively and really started looking like he could be playing on the other team - think Lou was taking notes?
Defensively we were solid tonight. The shots were down, clearances and breakouts, for the most part, were well executed and we certainly cleaned up very nicely around Halak. I thought that all 6 D-men, with a few slight differences, contributed well in this effort, so I looked for offence as the factor for their dome selections tonight. Hammer, of course, with the assist leads the group, but he also led in shots as his 4 were 1 more than the rest of the group combined.
Spacek was probably the second best player going forward tonight, but I could have gone with Andrei instead. I do, however, like Jaro tonight as he simply seemed more alert in all areas of his game. Around Halak he was, again, very quick to react to any problems and he also tied for the team lead in blocked shots with 4.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
A weak goal put us down 0-1, but it was Halak's strong play that kept New Jersey from scoring another one till OT. Unfortunately for Jaro, and his team, Brodeur was at his best tonight too. The game ended on a Parise breakaway that happened when he was near centre-ice collecting a new stick - he went in alone and lifted a backhand over our goalie. I think Halak could have and probably should have had that shot, but considering it was Parise, one of the league's best, and was in OT, not the third, the pill was easier to swallow.
Let's look at the bright side first. We just tied the East's best team minus 2 of our top-9 forwards. We only allowed 28 shots and actually played a somewhat effective defensive style. We created enough offence to force the best goalie of all time to be at his best. We drew a fair number of penalties and managed to keep to our average as we went 1/4 on the PP. Now, the bad points are there, but they certainly aren't anything to ba, but here they are anyway. First the excuses though. Our failure to supply more offence can easily be explained by Brodeur and our inability to add a more balanced attack can't really be helped, we're missing personnel after all. We can't, however, be one of those teams that use excuses to justify their losses, a champion never does that. I liked tonight's game and am very pleased with the result, but we need the players to think that we could and should have won this game. We need them to be hungrier next time and do more to get that win. A good losing effort against a team and a goalie of that calibre is reassuring, but in the end a loss is a loss and at the end of the day to be the best you have to beat the best. Will we be the best this year? Nope. Will we in the future? Hope so. The only way we can get there, however, is to deal with injuries, adapt to hot goalies and find ways (like NJ) to win games against tough competition, especially when that competition could have easily been the one to take the 2 points.