Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (W)
Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Malkin, Dupuis
In the third period, when we needed strong defensive efforts, Subban made an incredible play which I was hoping would be a game-saver. The play kept the game as a 0-0 game, but will likely be forgotten as in the end the Pens scored on that very PP. I still think, however, that it was one of the best plays of the series and the Habs' best on the night. A pass came from Halak's left to right and was destined for a wide open Pen. Halak was out of it, but P.K. slid across, on his stomach, to take away any chance of the pass being completed. I really liked what he did for us, and Halak, there and am upset that that play didn't end up meaning more.
Scott was our best forward tonight, but, for a change in a loss, that doesn't mean that the rest played badly. His line, whether with Pouliot or Camms, was consistently our best all night and were the ones who generated our chances throughout. I can't think of what Scott could have done differently tonight, but I guess scoring lots of goals and drawing tons of penalties wouldn't go amiss for game #4.
7 of our 18 shots came from Gionta so he can't be had up for not trying, but a scorer like him rarely shoots 7 without potting one or two. All in all he played a good game, but there was one play, on their scoring PP, in which I felt he could have been stronger (it was poor coverage at the left-point which made for an easy pass to the right side). It didn't lead to the goal, but I do expect more from the NJ-man.
Our bottom 2 lines haven't been too much of a force lately as their assignment seems to be - dump it in, get off. Tonight, however, I thought, of the bottom 6 forwards, Max showed some life. He tried to stir things up and that is never a bad thing. He did take 3 penalties, but in order to draw some and enrage the other team you must also take some, so I can live with that.
Gill did a good job tonight of covering both Crosby and Malkin and, had we scored, would be remembered as the hero for doing just that. Instead the loss, and our lack of scoring, will overshadow what was a very strong effort. In particular Crosby had 1 shot and didn't seem himself as his ex-teammate made sure that he got very little room. A bit weird that Beregeron played more than him tonight as, once again, MAB struggled in his own end.
Piqué looked very good all game and did just about everything but score. There was a very heavy shot on net, some good rushes, a few amazing spins, dekes and passes and, best of all, poise in his own end. I can happily say that I am not the least bit worried about him, in any situation, but do think we need more from our back end. Spacek will help immensely as that will relegate Bergeron the the 4th line (or beyond), but I think that it is pretty clear that there is no replacing Marky.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
Funny that a 24-shot night seems like a night off, but it really does, doesn't it? We can't forget, though, that Halak was good in this one and that he, once again, ensured that a goal or two could have been enough. There were a lot of good saves, especially in the 2nd, which had us all believing that we could not only win the game, but that we were outplaying Pittsburgh. A save on Malkin would have been ideal, but one mistake, on the PK, is well within the acceptable limit.
There aren't too many negatives from tonight, really, as we seemed to have a plan and we stuck to it. This was essentially a one-goal game in which they scored on the PP and we didn't. We were able to limit their chances to a handful and kept shots-against down to 25. Two cross-bars and two robs by Fleury meant that our chances were there, but luck wasn't on our side. I think that if we play game #4 like we played tonight then we could/should see a better result. One thing that I would like to see, however, is Sergei getting dressed over Darche. I like Darche, but he has played under 1 minute total in the past 2 games (0 seconds tonight) and that is just a waste. Put Sergei there, sit him if you want, but then you at least give yourself that option if need be. Sergei has more potential than Darche to score, is better defensively, is a better penalty-killer and is a quicker/more creative player. I understand the want to shorten the bench, but not using all 18 of your allowed spots is useless at this time of the year. Martin has to stop thinking about rewards and punishments, favourites and doghouse tenants and, instead, think about how he is going to squeak out 3 more wins in 4 games. Spacek is desperately needed right now and, considering the way he played in the Washington series, would be of serious value to us even at 60%.