Loss: 2-3 (SO)
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Anderson (W)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec, Pacioretty
Opposition goalscorers: Turris, Spezza (Alfredsson, SO)
Tying goals so close to time are always exciting. This one happened to be full of nice play as well. All forwards were implicated. From deep play with Pacioretty and Cole to pass out to Subban, simple toss to Campoli, clean shot, Desharnais' goalmaking determination and Pacioretty's johnny-on-the-spot routine. Fans were crying out for this goal and this show of passion. Nice to see.
David Desharnais - Game Puck
From start to finish I had my pencil mark made. He played the susceptible Ottawa defence hard and made several chances for himself. Of course, he played the pivotal role in the memorable final scene, but he could have been the hero but for Anderson on many other occasions. What I liked from Desharnais was his commitment to winning in this one. And if Cammalleri was complaing about players, it can't have been this guy.
Once again Cole is the player who stands out many times in these games with little scoring. He stands out for trying different things and for taking matters into his own hands (in a sensible way without risking goals against). As the captain sits, Cole should start wearing an "A" at the very least, as he is the leader we would want for this squad.
His goal to start the game in motion was not a thing of beauty, but he must get lots of credit for being on what must have been his third breakaway already. Yes, we'd like better shooting, but baby steps. Pleks also did something I've rarely seen from him - stick-faked to move inside. This is exciting for me as it indicates to me he must have been told, and therefore is being coached out of perimeter only play. Good to see he has the tools to do that too.
There were moments where I caught him displaying the greatest of ease in stripping pucks from inexperienced Ottawa forwards. This is where his confidence has risen to. If you are not a top liner, please just give me the puck now. The effort from the defenders in this one was actually quite superb for the most part. Shots against were low despite powerplays, chances were very few, and the goals were a bounce, a PP marker and a shootout finisher. Gorges kept a hot Spezza quiet and off target all game except for that one PP. Good to see.
He should get credit for a very good defensive effort too. It's not his fault he's listening to his coaches, but it'd be nice to see the old Subban again soon. It's frustrating knowing he's in there somewhere as the Habs struggle to score, especially as Ottawa's Erik Karlsson roams the ice freely en route to another win and care-free lead in defenceman scoring.
He did better than at times in the shootout, but will be disappointed with himself, I'm sure. Throughtout the contest he was true to form and held the Habs in. A couple of the saves he made were as pivotal as either goal.
A team has to look at the positives. A point in a game that was come from behind with a minute to go is a great thing.
But I tell you what. Teams that take too much comfort in that end up with records that look like the Habs current one. The team is now 7-8-7 at home. The positive spin is that they have taken points in 14 of 22 games. The reality is that this is not above average for an NHL team.
Tonight's loss was their 6th in 7 shootouts. 5 of the shootouts have been at home and each has ended in a loss. This is a complex of English football proportions. The team can't score when facing down a goalie (3 goals in 20 tries) and the goalie isn't good enough to wait until they hit the 15% marker. Something might be done, but I fear too many points have been left on the table already for it to be worthwhile. Bourque is said to be good. But would it matter if Kaberle takes the shots anyway.
A pseudo-positive, pseudo-negative result is a good way to start this next section of the season (the Bourque era). The Habs either have 8 points to make up or 5 points to shed depending on how you look at it. And one way or another shootout and OTLs will hurt them in either pursuit. So the team must commit as the management must to the direction from here. If it's winning, then winning has to come from pressing chances on breakaways and not letting every former Florida back-up goalie look the star of the universe when one plays him. If it's losing, last minute comebacks really just won't do.
A week ahead that includes the teams we thought would be the strength of the East and then Toronto is a good week to decide. Wins here will be against those teams on which ground needs to be made (so worthwhile) and losses will help in the opposite way. I can't tell you where they'll go, because though I thought they'd be bad, I also thought they were out after a Spezza goal, so what do I know...