Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Pavelec (L), Mason
Habs goalscorers: Gorges, Eller (4), Kaberle, Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: Stapleton, Wheeler, Ladd
Once the Jets made it 3-2 we were worried that, with over a period to play, history would repeat itself. They had just drawn within one on the PP and almost right after Diaz took a holding penalty that seemed to be what Winnipeg needed. But, we killed that off and we all breathed a big sigh of relief. We still needed a spark though and that came just 90 seconds later when Kostitsyn started the romp. He made an incredible play in the offensive zone to win the puck and then to find Moen. Travis then made a spectacular pass to Eller when Pavelec was certainly thinking 'shot'. Eller put it home like a goalscorer, but he was only halfway there.
Lars Eller - Game Puck
Four goals and an assist! We asked certain players to step up, and Eller was one of them, but I don't think that anyone expected this. Two of his goals were thanks to fantastic passing plays, but the other two were all him. His first was a nice one in that he did a lot of work just to get the puck. His last one we'll be seeing all year long as it was one of the nicest penalty-shot goals we have ever scored. This kid has potential, that's for sure, so let's hope he keeps getting his chances and keeps being put on with good wingers (like Kostitsyn and Moen tonight).
Erik ended the Florida game with a message and carried that into this game. The difference tonight was that he wasn't alone. The best way one can lead is by example and that is why, right now, Cole is the leader of this team. He was a dominant force again tonight and a big reason why we didn't see much of his line in the defensive zone. He collected two assists and was rewarded for his efforts with 27+ minutes; more ice-time than anyone on either team.
I felt that it was Kostitsyn that showed the most promise early on. In fact, even at two goals and an assist for Eller he was my Game-Puck choice. Eller's five points don't take away from Andrei's fantastic game, however. He was an offensive juggernaut and his two assists seem too few. He was on the ice for 4 goals-for (and involved in all of those) and was the one that sprang Eller on his breakaway that led to the penalty-shot. He is a veteran now and this is exactly the type of effort you expect from a player like him given the circumstances. Will Cunney keep him with Eller now? Have the two shown enough? For some reason Kostitsyn-Eller-Moen works and I would ride that as long as possible.
Gorges' goal tied it up and showed the team and fans that there is life after giving up a lead. Kaberle should also be recognized for his goal, his first as Hab as it was just as crucial. Josh played as well as he has done all season and for once was given a night off of sorts in his own end by his forwards.
It continues to surprise me that he was being benched just a few games ago. Tonight he got the third most ice-time of our seven D and earned every minute. His play (and that of Diaz) is probably the writing on the wall that Campoli and Weber (and maybe Gill when Markov is back) didn't want to see. Not only can Alexei dominate in his own end, but, as he showed again tonight, he can rush the puck, shoot and make fantastic passes. Oh, and there were the usual 5 hits.
Carey got that night off we had all been talking about. The type of night where being on or off doesn't matter. Individually, he wasn't particularly good nor particularly bad, no, tonight he was simply the goalie.
Ah, the real Atlanta, that is more like it. Deep down we all know that the Jets aren't a great team; this is still a team with some questionable players. Take away the MTS Centre advantage and all you need is a solid effort. Well, the effort was there tonight from the Habs, in a big way. We played well enough tonight to have me wondering, yet again, why we have lost so much. Players like Eller, Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Cammalleri and Pacioretty reminded me that we do have depth when we are on, we do have speed at our core and we can indeed score goals. Despite the efforts of the first two periods this game, like so many before it, was in doubt into the third. That is when it seemed that the players dug down deep and just started to play their hardest. In the end it paid off with chance after chance and, consequentially, goal after goal. This game was a fun game to watch and had me enjoying the Habs yet again.
This of course is one game and that is all it is. We were due for a win and Winnipeg on the road isn't exactly Detroit. To the players, however, that shouldn't matter. They should look to this game (and the one in Ottawa on the 27th) as indications that we can play well and outclass teams when we want to. The hill will be steep to climb, but I still think it is doable and that it is the right thing to do. Making the playoffs this year gives us a chance to win the cup this year. Losing big-time this year (and you can ask Edmonton, Columbus, Atlanta or Long Island) doesn't mean anything for next year, it just means that you can't win it this year. Not every team is Chicago or Pittsburgh, not every draft pick is Crosby or Malkin.