Win: 4-3 (SO)
Habs Goalie: Price, Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Hiller (L)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec (1, SO), Gionta (1, SO), Markov
Opposition goalscorers: Perry, Visnovsky, Niedermayer, (Getzlaf - SO)
So many to choose from and there I was 15 minutes from the end of the game wondering just what I may choose. The play that I keep coming back to, however, is that very first good play of the game from us; Plekanec's goal. That goal (we were down 0-3 at the time) gave us new life and made us realize that this team stacked with Olympians just isn't as hot in the NHL as one would assume. The play started when Gorges picked-off a pass in his own end. He then sent Plekanec away, up the middle, who, with blazing speed, got in alone and shelfed one on Hiller. It may have been a long time till we scored again, but I believe that that goal gave us the momentum that we would hold for the rest of the game.
It was a quietish game from Gionta until there was about 2 minutes to play in the third. It was at that point that Martin decided Moore could use a little offensive help on his wing as Sergei, although decent, wasn't generating much. A great pass from Dom led to the 2-3 goal; Gionta's 20th. Brian then found a way to score (just barely as the puck was hung-up in Hiller's shirt) to keep the shootout alive.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
Am I happier that Pleks scored, played a great game and we won or that Benoit Brunet was made to eat his words? Well, it is the win, of course, but you have to love when that guy is wrong (let's just say that there has been a whole lot of loving this season). Your best players may not be the best on every single shift (ask Crosby), and they may, at times, make mistakes, but when you need them the most there they are. Tonight's game was one of the best efforts all year from the 'can't-do-anything-right' centre. His breakaway goal was just the pecking on the surface as he went on to add shootout winner, game-high 7 shots and was 13-7 on face-offs.
Moore is the player that neither Lapierre (am I tough if I take cheap shots?) nor Metropolit (my legs age twice as fast as the rest of me) could be this season. He is quick, responsible, energetic and he finds a way to contribute offensively. Tonight it was thanks to his hard-work in the corner that we even scored a second goal - that marks his 4th point as a Hab in just 6 games. Like Pleks, he also did well in the face-off circle with a 62% efficiency.
Markov played a great game and was very involved at both ends. I pointed out last night that he was being rested for when we may need him more, for when we need the points more; well, tonight was that night. There was no lead, no points in the bank, no, if we wanted a win it was going to be tough work. So, it was not a surprise to see Andrei out there for a team-high 25+ in this one. I watched him very closely towards the end of the game and loved how he got the better of Perry, You see, it was Perry who (cheap as ever) slashed Markov at centre-ice. Well, instead of retaliating Markov simply went to the other end and managed to put the game-tying goal in. I love nothing more than seeing brats like Perry put in their place and am so glad that it was Markov that did it.
Jaro and Hammer had good games, but I felt that Josh stood out tonight above those two. He wasn't on the ice for a Duck goal, was on the ice for two of ours and had an incredible assist on Plekanec's 19th. I liked how he was being used on the PP as well as the PK tonight too. Right now he is playing like our 3rd or 4th best defender and is giving us some security on that 3rd pairing. I think that that move by Martin makes so much sense and allows Gill to be deployed at ES without there necessarily being a golden chance created against us.
Martin made the right call when he pulled Price after 1. 3 goals on 11 shots (all stoppable) didn't mean that we had to lose this game, it just meant that we couldn't let in too many more. Jaro came in and stopped everything that he saw (21 saves) and allowed his team to get right back into the game. He was very solid throughout and made a couple of game-savers in OT. He may have been lucky in the shootout as a couple of Ducks missed, but, luckily, he got the required goal-support. That is 2 wins in 24 hours for the kid and gives him 19 wins on the season. I think that the writing is on the wall, Jacques; Halak gives us the best chance to win, he cannot simply be a back-up. Let's see what happens this week, but I know that I want to win and that means that with 15 games left I'll put all my eggs in the Halak basket. After all he does win 25% (61% vs. 36%) more of his games than Price and we may just need those numbers now more than ever.
Had Price been on his game this could have easily been a 0-0 first period and we would all be talking about the great team effort that we had, once again, put on display. Instead it wasn't a good team effort, it was bad period and the Habs were in a hole that we often are unable to get out of. The change of goalie was, luckily, accompanied by a change of style from the Ducks and that meant that we would get a chance to peck away at a pretty sub-par defence. Little by little we kept coming, but Hiller proved to be too much. In the end, however, our 43 shots were too much and we found a way to score on three of those. OT could have gone either way as both goalies did the job and kept their teams alive. The shootout was exciting as Anaheim had not one, but two chances to win the game. Halak and Gionta, however, played the heroes and sent it to sudden-death. There the Ducks chose not to send the ultra-proficient Saku Koivu, but instead chose defenceman Wisniewski. We countered with a forward and that is what made the difference. It was great to see Saku again and he still looked very good. It was unusual to see him killing more penalties than playing on the PP, but I suppose that his role isn't what it used to be. I am happy, however, that he himself seems to be happy in California and am hoping that the Ducks can find a way into the dance. He has always been a class act and one can only hope the best for him. I am, therefore, happy that they got 1 point, but am much more pleased with the surprise 2 that we got. It is now back to Montreal and back to business on Tuesday as, believe it or not, there are only 15 games to play.