Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Anderson (L)
Habs goalscorers:White, Gallagher, Ryder
Play of the game
Because it showed the Habs they could lead again. Because it showed Anderson to be human. Because it knocked Karlsson off his pedestal. I suggest that the play of the game was the first goal, Ryan White's. Nothing other than its timing was beautiful for the Canadiens. But White sticking with it and guiding a puck under a flailing Craig Anderson opened the door for beautiful thoughts to flourish again. After this point, the Habs smelled a win. A goal quickly followed and the ranks were closed to get the job done.
Gallagher didn't even play that many minutes. He is noticed when he gets the ice he craves. A second playoff game gives Gallagher his second playoff goal. And an impressive game winning goal it was. Gallagher was in the net before the puck it seemed. His quick hands combined with his real nose for positioning makes him the most consistent threat game in, game out for the Habs. Interesting that he is not yet seen as a player to protect leads, however, as his ice time attests.
A big part n the goal that put the Senators to bed. Perhaps his biggest play was the hit on Daniel Alfredsson. The hit took place only moments after Ottawa seemed to be making their inroad back into the game. The hit was a solid and clean hit on a puck carrier. No one was injured. But Bourque did injure the Senators perception that all response to their delinquency would have to come through Neil, Smith or others. I still wait on Bourque to score on one of his breakaways though.
Pleks had to contribute. I had envisioned it being Pleks scoring on a cheeky goal to stir the Habs spirit. While he left that to the unlikely Ryan White, he did all the other things he does so well: stifling powerplays, creating shorthanded threat and shutting down the comeback effort.
It's hard to see a point at which PK Subban would not be a serious contender for the dome and player of the game. His skill allows him so much opportunity to influence things on the ice, his new discipline ensures it is not thrown out of balance by ill-advised plays. My favourite moment was his rush from end to end after a sling shot around Carey's goal, ending with a body check no doubt on the opposite boards. PK bringing his game like this means the Canadiens can always mount a threatening attack and will always hold hope of a lead in goals.
Many questioned Raphael Diaz last game. First his pass, then his composure as he faded after the Eller hit. This was a comeback for the Swissman. Would you have guessed that Diaz would be the second most used Canadiens defenceman? Would you guess he was the most frequently used penalty killer? The penalty kill was absolutely vital in getting the Canadiens the chance to score first, the chance for Price to regain his mojo and the chance to win. Diaz's part was enormous in all this. He quietly
Carey Price - Game Puck
All credit to Carey Price. It's not as easy as it seems to park a sub-par effort and turn in one of the better games of the year. What defined Price's game this game is exactly what was missing yesterday -- timely saves, battle for saves, providing confidence to his nearest teammates. He could have easily been said to have made the play of the game a few times over, and but for a moment of distraction in a shoving match was perfect. The win was the perfect result for the night.
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The Canadiens depth was to be put to the test with 3 simultaneous injuries. The depth in replacement was on display all over the game and scoresheet tonight. Ryan White scores the opening goal, Halpern provided good PK and even some offence. Armstrong was playing on the top lines at times. Dumont, in very limited action did manage to throw 3 hits, one important one on Erik Karlsson.
The players who move up to take the spots vacated by the bigger stars shone too. Ryder and Bourque awoke. Galchenyuk did a fine job at centre (with the possible exception of faceoffs) It is encouraging to see. I think the Canadiens will need both Gionta and Pacioretty back to achieve a long playoff run, but this seamless insertion of impassioned replacements is key to a long run as well.
I am heartened and relieved by the win tonoght. For one thing, I am hoping the team wins the series (and 0-2 holes are known to unkind). For another, as a holder of ticket for Game #3, I hoped for a reinvigorated Habs team to be on show. I think, as they say, we have a series on our hands. Those who thought there would be a sweep were misguided to begin with, but are now proven wrong. The tight play in the game seems likely to be replicated in the larger game with the prospect of OT games and a Game 6 or 7 ahead (or maybe we'll just say Habs in 5?).
Enjoy the day off. see you again on Sunday.