Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Montoya (L)
Habs goalscorers: Kostitsyn, Darche, Cole, Nokelainen, Gill
Opposition goalscorers: Moulson, Bailey, Tavares
After New York tied it up I was sure that we were either going to OT or, worse, would lose in regulation. Kostitsyn, however, had different ideas and it was his initiative that led to the winner. A dump-in was made with about 6:30 to play and it looked like the defence would grab it, the Habs would change and the game would continue. Andrei didn't let that happen, though. Instead he chased down the puck, made a beautiful hit to win both body position and the pcuk and kept the play alive in the Isles' end. That play led to good possession which led to Nokelainen, Kostitsyn's eventual replacement, firing home his second of the year.
He was close to winning the game-puck tonight, he was that good. He used size and strength to win battles and win pucks, he used it to get off shots or chances that others would not be able to make. His goal was a perfect example of his drive and his incredible shot, his hit on the play-of-the-game was an example of his speed and strength. Tonight's goal was his 9th, in just 21 games.
Erik Cole - Game Puck
Erik can fly out there and because of it generates so many chances for himself and his linemates. Another thing that he does really well is shoot. He has an amazing shot and when he gets passes like he did on his goal (courtesy of the crafty Desharnais) he rarely makes mistakes. His 11th goal (coupled with his slow start) has me firmly believing in 30 from him.
I must just mention Nokelainen here as his shot, the game-winner, was incredible. Overall, however, I felt that Desh had the stronger game. He picked up two assists including a fantastic one on the PP on Cole's goal. He also did well in the face-off circle at 53%. When he plays as he did tonight he is a legitimate 2nd-line centre and he then adds so much to his wingers' games. Not sure what will happen when Gomez and Gionta are back, but can't say I mind David getting 18+ minutes with a good amount of 2nd unit PP time.
PK played 26 minutes of hockey against New York's best tonight and did a formidable job of containing them. He also, unfortunately, led the team in giveaways which is something that he must work on. He did, however, contribute offensively and picked up an assist, a nice PP assist, on Cole's goal. In the end I am not too worried about his offensive or PP numbers in the end, though. If he can limit the blunders in his own end then he'll be one of the most imposing defensive D-men that we have had in years and that may just be what this team needs from him.
Tomas only played 17 minutes and was on (looking a bit lost) on New York's tying goal. How can I take away what he does for us offensively though? That is why we got hi, right? He can be the #5 or #6 in our end provided he does what no one else this year has done. And, for his part, he is getting his job done. He collected a third assist tonight, but, more importantly, ran our PP calmy and with authority. He is so good at controlling the middle of the ice, moving the puck and controlling it that we are getting more time in their end on the PP and more shots, just like that. As of now it is looking like a great move that Gauthier has made. But, check back in 2 weeks to see how it's going then.
It was an average night for Carey, but in the end he got the job done and delivered the Habs a rare home win. He did make some good saves down the stretch which enabled the Habs to stay tied. I am sure that he was as happy as you and I when Nokelainen, and then Gill, scored to keep this game to 60 minutes. I'd like to see Budaj get a start before Christmas, but only to give Price a rest. He has been playing well and we have to make sure that he is fit and rested enough for the second half.
You look at games like this one in October and you pencil in a win. Home to the Islanders, that wouldn't even be funny. The Isles jumped out to a lead, but good plays by both Kostitsyn and Campoli had us right back in it. The Habs then dominated the play until they were up 3-1 after a few seconds in the third. Their good PPs, strong fore-check and solid D didn't matter anymore as it was 'see if we can hang on' time. As is the custom these days the opposition tied it up as the Habs, once again, looked disorganized in their own end. After the tying goal, however, Montreal went for it. Nokelainen's goal gave us the lead again and Gill's unlikely 175' marker gave us the win. New York probably regrets tying it up so early as it lit a fire under the Habs, a fire that sometimes isn't lit until OT.
Kaberle looks like he may be the December PP specialist acquisition we were looking for. Is he the latest in a long line of players that we have found over the past few years that can get the job done? It looks like he may very well be. I am not quite sure about Campoli though. I am glad he is healthy and game-ready, but I am not convinced he is a top-6 on our team (even with Markov out). Let's not forget that Chris was brought in to do what we have now brought Kaberle in to do and I think Tomas will most certainly do it better. So, do we want Campoli over Emelin? I don't. Over Diaz? Probably not. A win is a win and I am thrilled, but I feel that we can't let a guy like Emelin sit too long as wins aren't a given and I think he is certainly part of the solution.