Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Elliott (W)
Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Regin, Karlsson
I believe this is what analysts would call a rich vein of form. For some time now, Gionta has been the major factor in the Canadiens attack, something he kept up in this game. The shots were there, and were it for a bit of luck or a bounce or two in a different direction, Brian's 5 shots and 10 attempts on net might have yielded another multi-goal game and further heroic acclaim. As it stands, the stats will only tell us he had a lot of shots.
I think it was right for some people to be worried about Andrei. The past few games, he has played adequately, but without fire. Well, tonight he reignited the fire. Of all the forwards, I actually thought Andrei was best. Even in messing up plays, he seemed to make highlights – once making a pass of the game with his foot, another time turning a botched breakaway into a slick feed. Had this gone differently, I was going to be clamouring for Cammalleri. As it happens, I look forward to him complementing two players in relative form.
What a transformation from the younger Kostitsyn. Not only from the sulky days of Hamilton, but also from the solid, but unthreatening return to the lineup of winter. Spring, it seems, has added some pep to Sergei's game, and I'm convinced that of all the Olympians, he gained the most. He was lively off the puck, always fighting and skating good lines. And on the puck, he orchestrated some dangerous moves. Jacques Martin noticed too (though probably too late) as Sergei was transplanted onto a scoring line at the expense of Pyatt late on.
Spacek played for his money on this night. Though we might have enjoyed a deflection or two on his point efforts, he still ran a solid point on the PP – banishing all memories of Brisebois, at least, with zone conservation as clockwork. Really the strength of his game was in the defensive end and in puck control. He played a decent defensive game, never turning to cross-checking or hooking to get out of trouble, instead trusting his instincts, his puck control and his partner. We might be taking this for granted now, but Spacek in this form is a massive upgrade on Brisebois/Dandenault/Bouillon.
Another solid game from Gorges. He was on the ice for both goals, but the second one certainly wasn't his fault. The rest of the game, I thought our 4th come 3rd defenceman did a very good job. If I could only find a way to be as calm as Josh while watching Hal Gill stumble around the ice.
Jaroslav Halak – Game Puck
The dome was a certainty. The game puck was a tight call. Halak played well tonight, making several instrumental and timely saves, but the goalless forwards had their moments too. What tipped the balance for Halak in the end was his total and utter calm in the face of waves of Sens pressure (and open shooting chances). The evolution that has brought him from jumpy and acrobatic youngster to the calm starting goalie we have craved for some time in one form or another.
This loss was a bad one. For the standings at least. It was definitely a game that one might have hoped for a storming effort. The effort, however, was not as bad as those who colour every comment by scoreline make out. In my opinion, the Canadiens and Senators played symmetrical games. Both teams played with relative discipline, both teams took about 30 shots, both teams had several dangerous efforts. While the Habs got the referee's on this night, the Sens seemed to get the nice bounces. Time and time again, the Canadiens seemed to end their build up with a pass just short or too long, a bounce just out of reach or into a Sens shin pad. The PP will be recorded as a failure, but had one shot seen its way cleanly to the net as Karlsson's did, the result and the analysis would say differently. The Sens first goal too was a marvel, as a pass snuck through our behemoth of assistant captain without veering off course to an expectant stick and unexpectant goalie.
In short, I think the loss was just one of those things. And for a team that seems to prefer to do things the hard way – almost predictable. I neither think this indicts their play of the past two weeks as fluke, nor tells us a thing about how Game 74 will begin and/or end. The Senators played with their peers and took the goals on a night when the game could have gone either way.
In the positives column, Gionta continues to be electric and Andrei may have re-awoken, Halak calmly answered the questions asked and the defence (if it didn't prevent first shots) cleared the zone well. Let's not also forget that Cammalleri might make a healthy return, which would be a boon to both the PP and the top two lines.
Final thoughts go to Travis Moen, who we hope is OK and free of damage to anything more than the bridge of his nose. Once again, the trainers and the medical system in place since McCleary must be commended for its speed of response.