Loss: 3-4 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Pavelec (W)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec, Subban, Gionta
Opposition goalscorers: Peverley, Kane, Ladd, Byfuglien
When the Habs needed goals, they got goals. All were timely and game-changing, but none was more rife with skill than the Plekanec beauty. A good pass turned into a great one as Pleks split the D with a quick burst (his rediscovered quick feet helping there) and with a deke and puck protection he arrived in front of goal with nothing to do but put a perfect shot just below the cross bar - the only opening available to him.
Back to his absolute best form of the season. He was creative, dangerous and dominant at times. It's amazing what can happen when he doesn't have to kill 10 minutes of penalties in a game.
The best forwards came to play, Scott wasn't an omission this time. 5 shots of his very own, many dangerous, and a massive contribution to the game which resulted in territorial dominance for most of the first 60 minutes. Let's hope this is him building for the rest of the season.
Brian Gionta - Game Puck
It would take a tour de force to displace Pleks for the Game Puck. 13 efforts, 9 on net, the tying goal and a third period that probably ranks as his best of the season in terms of offensive chances - he delivered.
Whoknewski? That's his new name, that's how I feel. I thought he was getting points on the Islanders because, after all, someone had to. Turns out he was getting them because he can play, and man can he shoot. He set up that Plekanec goal with a simple, but important pass. He got a second assist. And, one shot of his had no business not going in. He's the tonic the PP needed and so far looks like someone who might be able to give the vets a rest at the back. A very nice addition.
A pretty good game from the big man. Sometimes he was just being good at the back end. Sometimes he was in the offensive zone forechecking and keeping up the zone dominance. It wasn't a clean sheet, but it was a good balanced game from Roman.
Just another off game from Carey. He's not run out of good will currency yet, but I might advise him again to think back to October and whatever inspired him to completely flatten all doubters, because he doesn't look the same on the ice right now. As for this dome, I just can't give it to him. He made some big saves that ultimately preserved the points and prolonged the Habs challenge, but some of that with thanks to posts and Thrashers misses. A good break may be just what he needs. With a break scheduled in, it's what he'll get.
When is a loss a win? Well, when your team that has been outplayed for the last 10 games outplays a playoff rival, it's a start. When your team outshoots, outchances, outposesses the opposition. When your team, which has a dismal record when behind in games, comes back three times and just about wins it. When your team used to getting twenty penalty minutes a night, makes on slip in regulation.
When that loss can be included in later revelling about games with points.
It's easy to be negative about losing all the time. Occasionally the result does not reflect the game. This game was a case in point. The Canadiens dominated, had the better chances and did OK. There were breakdowns at the back, but no more for the Habs than the Thrashers. We know Gorges is injured, Price can be a lot better and that Cammalleri and Kostitsyn may one day score again. The game for me felt like the pendulum was starting to swing back the other way. Maybe not the perfect start to the New Year, but better than many other options.