Location: New York
Win: 3-2 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Tokarski (W)
Opposition Goalie: Lundqvist, (L)
Habs goalscorers: Markov, Briere, Galchenyuk
Opposition goalscorers:Hagelin, Kreider
Brendan GallagherThe little big man is due for a breakthrough on the scoresheet. He played another big game and is preoccupying the Rangers best defenders all night long. Even with all the attention he still also has time to break free and get multiple quality chances. All I can say is who knew he was so slow, and who knew a player wouldn't be vaulted forward by a comeback slash on a breakaway?
Max PaciorettyGood throughout really, I noticed that he was not being properly contained by the Rangers D who continue to make a show of containing the small guys. He played the important role of safe cracker on the opening goal and just infused life where it was waning the rest of the contest. Encouraged by his playoff (re)naissance.
Daniel BriereHow can it even be? He plays so little, it doesn't bear to reason that Daniel Briere keeps popping up at important moments. His goal, the lifegiver, wasn't the prettiest. But with his record, can we even start to question what his intention was on that play. He had some other decent shifts too, and his presence on the 4th line gives the Habs one of their only matchup wins at the moment.
Andrei MarkovThis was close to Game Puck Markov of 4 years ago. Sure, he had his moments pinned down like the rest. What's special about Markov is how he gets out of those and how he can turn things around the other way so quickly. He played a part in all three Canadiens goals and was on for none against. You know the first. The second was spurned on by his shift of pure will in which he should have drawn a penalty, created a takeaway and then blocked a key shot. He was the player caught on camera being congratulated a s much as any other after this goal. Finally, a sound defensive breakout (so rare) led to the rush where 3 forwards could actually attack the Rangers zone.
Alexei EmelinA tough choice, especially given his role in the Kreider goal. But throughout, I really liked what Emelin was doing for the team. Among the defenders, he seemed the only player to really take on the pests like Zuccarello with the body and it seemed to have at least some effect (at least before the goalie was pulled). Being a Canadiens defender, you also know he blocked important shots all night.
Dustin Tokarski - Game PuckHe only effectively stepped into the fire and pulled out a shutout for this team. No shots where he was able to goaltend went by him. He outplayed Lundqvist. It's stunning really. I've been excited by this player since he was acquired for Cedrick Desjardins. Winning at every level means something. IN this game, he showed the poise that Carey Price shows in these situations and just honed in the pucks. His two saves on St. Louis in particular were absolutely stunning in athleticism and grappling. The Rangers now have a series on their hands thanks to Therrien's faith in Dustin.
CommentsThis was a very difficult game to watch as I'm sure you'd all agree. The result was right, but the tone rarely felt right. There may be some truth to the notion that the Canadiens are ailing and tired and dug too deep to beat a better opponent in Boston. At times, the Habs just looked bewildered and incapable in their own end.
They held on. And a win can do wondrous things though, and suddenly playing for the prize that lies beyond the Rangers seems a little more attainable.
What's more, I should point out that they have now won two periods of hockey from the Rangers, and could clay claim to accolades for the other two periods they have drawn of the previous 5. They have also now traded wins with the Rangers and traded possession (I mean shot) wins. Place the 7-2 debacle and all its pain aside and this is actually the series we anticipated. That said, why shouldn't the team win 4 of 6, just as they might have expected to do from the outset anyway.
I suppose something also must be said about Brandon Prust. His hit on Stepan was misguided and suspendable for me. I can see that it drove a couple of Rangers to distraction, but in the end few that mattered. Prust will be a loss for the team, as he played well otherwise in this game. Carcillo for his part is a liability that we would be happier to see remain. In steps Ryan White for Game #4? Who knows what Therrien thinks anymore.
As for the rest of the lineup, adjustments are still required. I believe the team needs to try if they can to actually slow things down, as the race to the finish with the Rangers is exposing some deficits. I think these adjustments are made withing the current personnel, not by moving personnel, though I'd not be too worried about tinkering with forward lines that by and large aren't solving the puzzle of the Blue defence.
It should be an interesting few days and an intereting Game #4.