Montreal 2 Detroit 3 SO (Bell Centre)
posted by Rocket
Ever want to have one back? You know, a mulligan moment.
Fans couldn't be blamed if they wondered about a first period without a six-minute penalty to resident enforcer Georges Laraque.
Others may even have been questioning Jacques Martin's decision to forego a call-up and insert Laraque in the line-up again after a weak performance against Washington. Laraque wasn't able to register a single hit on Friday night.
The Canadiens started the game with so much promise, brimming with confidence from a win against the Capitals. The Habs were skating well and forechecking. Ryan White delivered a thunderous hit to Niklas Kronwall.
But, in one lazy play, Laraque changed the game and put his team in a hole that they were forced to fight their way out of all game.
Detroit scored two power-play goals with Laraque in the penalty box. One goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage. The Red Wings may not be firing on all cylinders this season but their power-play is a top functioning unit, especially with a two-man advantage.
As bad as it was, it could have been worse. Laraque could have easily been assessed a five-minute penalty for the knee-on-knee hit to Niklas Kronwall, in addition to the four-minute penalty for high sticking Darren Helm. A five-minute penalty would also have carried a game misconduct.
The Canadiens took 12 minutes in penalties in the first period and were forced to defend two 5-on-3 advantages by the Red Wings. Despite giving up two goals, the penalty killers played well. Detroit outshot Montreal 16-to-3.
Carey Price did everything he could to keep his team close facing a constant barrage of shots by Detroit. The Red Wings directed 34 shots at the net, including ten missed shots, and eight blocked shots by the Canadiens defense.
Paul Mara played 9:09 in the first period. It likely would have been more if he didn't have to sit for two minutes in the penalty box.
Nothing of consequence happened in the second period as Mike Babcock outduelled his counterpart and the Red Wings limited scoring opportunities.
But to open the third period, Martin finally saw fit to add Mike Cammalleri to the defacto first line with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. Nine seconds was all the new combination needed to put the Canadiens on the board.
The Plekanec line connected again with Kostitsyn making a perfect pass to Cammalleri who was parked at the corner of the crease for a tap-in goal. Detroit went on to win the game in the shootout but the Canadiens fought hard to earn a single point.
As has been the case for the past several games, the Canadiens were led by Price, Plekanec, Kostitsyn and Cammalleri. The defense is also coming together with strong efforts by Spacek, Hamrlik, O'Byrne, Mara and Gorges.
Facing Washington and Detroit on consecutive nights, the Canadiens should be pleased with taking three of four points. But, what if?
Some watching will say it was a bad omen when one of the centennial flag-bearers took a nose-dive during his pre-game ceremonial lap. Others will blame the blue vintage sweaters from 1909-10, the inaugural year of the Canadiens.
But, one Mr. Laraque should be looking in the mirror. As he wasn't prepared to expend the necessary effort for one shift, his teammates were left to clean up the mess. Now it appears that they will be unburdened from that responsibility, for a few games at least when Laraque is suspended.
Rocket's three stars
1. Mike Cammalleri
2. Andrei Kostitsyn
3. Brad Stuart
Special mentions: Pavel Datsyuk, Carey Price
(photo credit: Getty)