Perhaps it was too good to be true.
Perhaps fans—with me on the front line!—and medias went too fast on the celebrations.
But all hopes and expectations of a fifth straight win—the longest of the season—were shut down by the Penguins Pittsburgh.
Evgeni Malkin took everything in charge since Crosby's injury. With now 82 points in 62 games, he showed his skills last night at the Bell Centre.
The last time Pittsburgh was in town, Danis Sabourin blanked the Habs 2-0—with Malkin scoring in an empty net.
For the Habs, Cristobal Huet was between the pipes.
Ryan Whitney and Jarkko Ruutu opened the scoring for the Penguins in the first period. The first goal gave Malkin his first point of the night, with an assist on the play.
Starting the second, Saku Koivu received a pass from rookie Sergei Kostitsyn to reduce the gap. Then, Maxime Lapierre and Maxime Talbot exchanged arguments with a few hits, which sent both players in the box for five minutes, plus a ten minutes game misconduct for Lapierre.
Guillaume Latendresse joined his teammate on the penalty bench for high sticking, giving to Penguins Ryan Malone an opportunity to get his 20th of the season.
The Habs fought back again with a power play as Christopher Higgins redirected a pass from Alexei Kovalev. The game was 3-2 for the Pens, after two periods.
After only 21 seconds in the third, Michael Ryder tied the game, with his 12th of the year, his fifth point in the last three games.
Montreal Roman Hamrlik gave his team its first lead of the night, helped by Koivu and Kovalev.
They could even have gotten further, with Evgeni Malkin caught for high sticking midway in the period. However, the last word would belong the Penguins superstar.
Forgotten in the Canadiens zone right after he got out of the box, a pass missed by Andrei Markov gave him a one-on-one with Cristobal Huet; a chance that he would not miss. And the score was 4-4 with 10 minutes to go in the third.
At that point in the game, some might have said not to worry too much. The Habs are now a team that can come back from a 0-5 gap; scoring one goal in ten minutes should not be that hard...mmmhh...not so fast!
Pens Sergei Gonchar gave the final lead to his team, on a power play with Kovalev caught for interference on Malkin.
During his postgame interview, Guy Carbonneau, visibly unhappy, highlighted the fact that the team allowed too many goals. He added that they need to forget about Tuesday's win, even if it was incredible and spectacular.
In Montreal City, these last 48 hours have been all enthusiasm and joy. A local newspaper even had its front page untitled "The Smell of the Cup", if I may translate it that way ("Ca sent la coupe").
Coach Carbo did talk about the Stanley Cup at some point during these last two days, but never said they were going to win it. He simply declared he is happy with what he sees so far (except tonight obviously!), but it is important to remain calm.
Well, coach, tonight's game might have helped for that!
Cristobal Huet may leave his spot to Carey Price for Saturday's game, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets just signed tonight a 3-2 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators.
Rick Nash and his crew will come to Montreal to assist to another Habs historical moment: the retirement of Bob Gainey's jersey.
The celebration will start at 6.00 pm ET. The game itself at 7.30 pm ET.
The post's three stars: Evgeni Malkin - Ryan Whitney - Saku Koivu