Location: New Jersey
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Brodeur (L)
Habs goalscorers: Darche (2), Subban
Opposition goalscorers: Kovalchuk
It's not often I'll get to say this, but the play of the game happened twice tonight: two identical exchanges between Gionta and Darche in the first and third periods on opposite sides of the ice. Rushing down the ice in a 2-on-2 situation, Gionta took an outside lane with the puck while Darche drove to the net. Perfect puck placement from the captain allowed Darche to basically ignore his coverage and beat Brodeur on both his backhand and forehand in the same game, a feat not many players can boast of!
Mathieu Darche - Game Puck
Darche was solid tonight, marking two goals by simply driving the net like a good power forward should. He made some great defensive plays and showed up strong in the neutral zone. Great teams are made of great role-players and Darche is proving his worth beside Gionta and Gomez.
Besides creating both of Darche's goals, Gionta led his line to be the most effective threat of the night. He contributed to most of our best chances and played well in his own zone. A character night from our captain.
This spot could just as easily have been taken by Plekanec, who made two amazing steals and won some key faceoffs, but I thought that Desharnais was the main factor in making his line look at least as dangerous as Plekanec's. He works well in the corners to create chances, and looks like a player who's third in scoring for the Habs since the All-Star break (17 points, behind Gionta and Subban with 18 each). Some solid defence in the third period sealed his dome appearance for me.
Once again, we have our #1 defender playing like our #1 defender. Hamrlik has a gift for the smart, simple plays and making great defence look easy -
Despite being responsible for the giveaway that led to the breakaway and subsequent penalty shot in the first period, Subban recovered well and did a lot of things right tonight. His goal, a rocket of a shot past an excellent screen by Kostitsyn, came at a key time as did some solid defensive play late in the third.
Price started the game with a little luck on his side, getting some help from his post on the penalty shot about 5 minutes in. A bobbled puck in the first caused some panic, but I was more concerned about the team's reaction than Price's. He made the key saves at the key times and when challenged in the third, he didn't once look shaky while in his net. Outside the net, however, his puck-handling remains somewhat questionable and he committed an atrocious giveaway halfway through the third.
Overall a good showing from the Habs, the team as a whole played well together. Nobody looked bad, but we're going to need more from the Plekanec/Cammalleri/Kostitsyn line than we got tonight. They especially shined in the transition game, playing well in the neutral zone and doing a great job of creating offensive rushes. They also cleared the puck from the defensive zone quickly and didn't allow many dangerous plays to develop.
The Habs opened the game looking hungry and dominated the first period almost completely; doing an excellent job of keeping the puck out of their end and creating good chances on Brodeur. Things were a little more even through the second, and we squandered our first power play with terrible passing. The second PP was a different animal altogether, as we thoroughly dominated the Devils and came back from the locker room to score a welcome PP goal just seconds into the third. I was extremely happy to see the team not collapsing back into their zone after the goal to protect a 2-0 lead, instead they kept the pressure up and the puck in the other end. Hopefully we'll learn from this success. A strong game and a very welcome two points, we'll only need one more to clinch the playoffs.