Loss: 3-4 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (W)
Habs goalscorers: Moen, Pacioretty, Cole
Opposition goalscorers: Malkin, Dupuis, Staal, Letang
Goal #2. A simple demonstration of why keeping a line together can work. Cole shoots low and hard, Desharnais is there to recover a rebound. Instead of shooting like many players might, he senses his linemate on his shoulder, sloughs the puck to him and goal. Cole was there on the post just in case.
Erik Cole - Game Puck
I had doubts in the summer. I had bigger ones after 5 games. But now I want to know what happened in Edmonton. Cole is a great fit for this team and deomnstrated that on several occasions tonight. He set up that goal and scored a good one too, but his breakaway made on acceleration was the most impressive moment for me.
I don't know if he just liked his match-up or what, but DD looked better tonight than in a long time. He was in sync with his linemates and did the simple plays that made the goals. A few times when I was impressed by the quality of the Canadiens PK, I was surprised to see #51 flash by my eyes.
Credit where credit is due, this guy is scoring some very good goals this year. Not only that, he is using those goals to fuel a confidence we never knew he could feel - witness the chance he took to drive around a defender and get in on goal (albeit without the puck at the end). Pacioretty should have been in this dome, but his hit on Letang ruined a good night for me. There was no excuse for any player to do that, let alone one who should know so much better.
Pittsburgh has a lot of weapons to storm the barricades with and it takes some steadfast defence to keep them back. Tonight I found Gorges overwhelmed at times. The fact that PK didn't look that way was a tribute to the poise and skill we so often take for granted. Yes we'd still like PK to find that shot he once owned for our PP, but that will come with time.
Did you know Diaz played over 20 minutes? No, neither did I till the stats check. On a night where the defenders didn't cover themselves in glory, it's worth noting that the 24-game vet posted a plus one with a few decent chances at the other end.
I didn't like the start and I didn't like the finish from Carey Price. His team came back, but it's still not top-notch to let in the first chance of the game (a frequent occurrence of late). The game ended on a sour note too, with Carey launching his stick across the ice in disgust. The ref's call was bad, but so was his effort to freeze the puck. There were many big saves in between these moments, many highlight moments, but if the puck gets behind a guy 6 times in one game, scrutiny is warranted.
The Habs let a winnable one get away here. It's not everyday that your team comes back against a powerful Pens start to claim the lead and then extend it. With half a game to close this out, the Habs should have done better than they did. The defenders always looked like they were in trouble when the Pens pressed and too often the calm play of possession was overlooked for the quick fix of a backhand dump out (we know how well that works). The forwards did well to beat Fleury three times and once on the post, but sometimes it was their cheats that let Pittsburgh retain long control.
What we basically saw here was a good team (the Habs) lose to a a great team (the Pens). The Canadiens can't call on a player of the caliber of Sidney Crosby. Witness the same defensive strategy which leads Andrei Kostitsyn into a corner and Crosby fighting with puck to the front of the net, Cammalleri off the scoresheet and Crosby with one point and involvement in two disallowed goals. It begins with Crosby, but it doesn't end with him. Staal and Malkin took their cues from the leader and Letang was predatory, if not ubiquitous. The Canadiens should be happy to keep pace with a team like the Pens, but ultimately must learn how not to loseat the line.
Anyway, the point will help. And now it's off to California for a tough week. Anaheim may just be the sleeping giant of the games, as they have some forwards as tricky as those fumbled with tonight for the Habs to deal with. A good forecast from this week would be 3-4 points. The Markov watch continues, of course, as games where he could have been of great help come and go by the day.