Montreal 5 Columbus 3 (Bell Centre)
posted by Rocket
It's odd when the game ends after the third period. Seems that we have become programmed to expect overtime and shootouts this season.
Tonight's analysis is relatively straightforward. In a game that was played rather loose by both sides, one team got superb goaltending and the other did not.
Carey Price made 25 saves in the first two periods (33 saves overall), many of the spectacular variety, while the Canadiens struggled to get on track. Even though Montreal scored first, it was a potent Columbus power-play that turned the game in favor of the Blue Jackets.
"The first half of the game our timing wasn't there and we lacked intensity," said coach Jacques Martin. "Our goalie allowed us to stay in the game."
Surprisingly, it was a power play by the Canadiens late in the second period, maybe their best of the season, that triggered the comeback. Funny thing is, the Habs didn't score during the power play. But they controlled the Columbus zone for the full two minutes, built some confidence, and wore down the Blue Jackets.
If you glanced at the pre-game notes, you would have observed that the Canadiens had eight regulars out of the lineup tonight. Even PA announcer Michel Lacroix was a scratch.
For the first two periods, the lack of bona fide NHL'ers showed. Jaroslav Spacek was particularly missed. The Habs did not have a consistent answer for Rick Nash.
Josh Gorges led the defense corps with more than 22 minutes of icetime. Roman Hamrlik, Ryan O'Byrne, Paul Mara, and Marc-Andre Bergeron all hovered around 20 minutes. Bergeron had eight shots and two goals.
The newly formed line of Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Mike Cammalleri were a combined plus-five and totalled a goal and three assists.
Max Pacioretty had one of his better games with two assists. With limited icetime, Sergei Kostitsyn had a strong game.
Maxim Lapierre seemed to like playing with his new linemates. Lapierre was flying to keep up with speedsters Ryan White and Tom Pyatt. Lapierre scored the insurance goal.
"When I look at some of the young guys, they bring energy, they're excited," said coach Martin. "Kids like Pyatt and White are our second unit on penalty killing and Sergei is a smart player who I felt made some contributions."
While Glen Metropolit scored his first goal of the season, it was not one of his better defensive games (which is probably the first time I wrote that this year).
It wasn't a good night for the men in stripes, Ian Walsh and Justin St. Pierre. Missed calls and phantom calls were the order of the evening. Nash's headshot on Travis Moen was probably the most blatant example.
Canadiens and their fans can thank Carey Price for this win. There was no time to celebrate this victory as the Habs were on their way to Pittsburgh soon after the game. Montreal faces the Penguins on Wednesday night.
Rocket's three stars:
1. Carey Price
2. Rick Nash
3. Marc-Andre Bergeron
Special mentions: Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty
(photo credit: Getty)
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