Location: San Jose
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Nabokov (W)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta, Gomez
Opposition goalscorers: Marleau, Heatley, Malhotra
Price had some ups and downs in this game, but, boy, were the ups very good/ The one that stands out for me was a save that he made on Pavelski on a breakaway. The save itself was spectacular as Carey stayed up for the whole play. Pavelski came in with speed from the left side, but a top-corner wrist-shot (somewhere all Sharks were advsied to shoot tonight) was snatched up by the suddenly active glove of Price. It was the best of a series of saves that helped put a big Price stamp on this game.
Brian Gionta - Game Puck
Brian, and his line were the best unit for us tonight. They had a rough few first 5-8 minutes, but after that they seemed to get comfortable with the flow of the play. All 3 members chipped in to create the first goal which was put in the back of the net by Gionta – it was a very well-placed shot. Gio also played a role on our second goal (an assist) and took 5 of the team’s 30 shots.
All in all Scott was a 32% on face-offs, but considering the team was at 31% for the night you can’t really blame just him. Like Gionta, Scott scored a goal and added an assist. His goal hit a Shark before reaching his linemate who was positioned in front of the net, primed to score himself. Scott’s actual assist, on his buddy’s goal, was the result of hard work and his great passing-eye. As usual, Scott shot a lot; in all there were 6. Most of his shots seemed easy to save, but he proved, yet again, that when you put pucks on net, good things can happen.
Don’t worry, I heard Brunet telling me that Andrei had a bad game, but I have stopped listening to that guy when it comes to certain players. I can acknowledge that it wasn’t a great game, but I do believe that he was our third best forward. The thing that helped to make up my mind was the fact that when he shot (4 shots in all) he almost scored. (Also, no one else was really that great) His brother, and even Plekanec (who Brunet is really worried about – I guess he forgot about his play before the Olympics) got him the puck all night and, through persistence, there came chances.
I am convinced that Markov is still not 100% as his two games since the Olympics (and the Olympics themselves) have not been played at the height of his abilities. He still, however, is finding ways to contribute and, maybe unsurprisingly, was, on this night, our best defenceman. Again O’Byrne looked bad, and again Andrei did his best to limit the damage. It is hard to impose yourself in your own end when you are dragging an anchor like Ryan around with you, but I think he is doing better than anyone else could. Offensively he seems almost all there - an assist and some decent power-play puck-movement makes me think that this is the area of his game that is closest to its best.
Hammer led the team in ice-time and was only one blocked-shot off the team lead. I thought that he was our best defender in our own end and felt that his pairing was the most consistent. He was involved on our second goal as he was just a pass or two off the scoresheet. If this game was any indication it would seem that, with Bergeron out, he’ll be seeing some serious PP time; by the looks of it, he should have a positive impact in that department.
At times during this game I was wondering what was going on with Price and at others I was wondering where we would have been without him. What I really liked was his involvement in the game. What I mean here is that he seemed focused on every shot, seemed to challenge every shooter and seemed confident in his abilities and choices. His puck-handling, too, was good as he didn’t bother with passing the puck (he usually gives hard to handle 5’ passes), but instead just left it for the defenders. The bad parts were of the final goal (it seems it always comes at the worst time for the kid), the throwing of the stick penalty and the fact that he was beaten a total of 3 more times (the post, luckily bailed him out and likely saved him this dome). All in all he gave us a serious chance to beat one of the best teams in the league and that was all I was looking for from our keeper tonight.
We played a strong game considering the situation, I think. We were playing a team that has lost less than 50 games in regulation in that building since the lockout – that is almost 5 seasons. So, the fact that we were leading for a good portion of this game is a positive for me. Yes, it would have been nice to hold that lead and get the win, but sometimes you can feel alright with a loss. For example, I would much rather lose that game than lose, at home, to the Thrashers by 3 or 4 goals. Both get you nothing in the standings, but you have to think that we feel pretty good, mentally, about this one. I guess the main negative was the fact that a good portion of our team didn’t really get too involved tonight. We held on and played well enough, but had we seen a good game from 5 more players I have no doubt that a win was doable. I never really like these West Coast swings as the times of the games is less than appealing, but mostly since the competition is generally pretty good. I feel that 2 points, however, in the LA region this weekend (out of 4) will set us up nicely for our return home on Tuesday.