Easter came early.
Cristobal Huet rose from the grave he’d dug himself in the third period and made five saves in OT and two more in the shootout to give the Canadiens their 16th road win of the season.
You have to admire Huet’s sang-froid, a French phrase meaning the mental toughness to shake off boneheaded errors. Now if he’d only display some legerdemain in handling the puck.
There was a lot to like in the game.
Canadiens came up with their second consecutive brilliant defensive effort on the road. They held the Thrashers to a paltry 19 shots in regulation time after the Islanders got 18 on Tuesday night.
The telling statistic, cited frequently by the RDS guys last night, was odd-man rushes. Canadiens had nine, Atlanta had one.
That’s some great team D. And in the process, Canadiens shut down the NHL’s leading goal-scorer, Ilya Kovalchuk. We’ll see if the system works as well at home against Sidney Crosby and friends.
What’s encouraging is the young guys are learning to be two-way players. You expect Tom Kostopoulos (who had four shots on goal last night!) to play a responsible game. The pleasant surprise is the defensive play of Sergei Kostitsyn.
It was nice to see Michael Ryder get one and even nicer to see Saku Koivu clinch the win in the SO. The Captain and Chris Higgins have to regain their scoring touch for nights when the opposition manages to shut down the Tomas Plekanec line.
Which isn’t easy – especially now that Andrei Kostitsyn is hitting his stride. That goal last night will make the week’s Top 10 reel. It highlighted the senior K’s speed, quick hands and a scorer’s touch that can’t be taught – and that Canadiens need.
In his post-game chalk talk on RDS, Gaston Therrien highlighted an Andrei Markov play. Pouncing on an Atlanta turnover just outside the Canadiens’ zone, Markov snapped off a cross-ice pass to Mathieu Dandenault, parked at the Atlanta blueline. Therrien said it was one example among many of Markov’s excellence in the transition game.