I hope the Canadiens made it through customs last night..
They were travelling by bus to Toronto. It’s a 90-minute trip unless you’re tied up at the border, where the team would have been wise to declare the win they stole in Buffalo.
Steve Bégin joked after the game that Canadiens ought to sneak out the back door and not make too much noise, lest they attract the attention of the police.
It was a prima facie case of Grand Theft Hockey.
At least in their miracle five-goal comeback against the Rangers, Canadiens played a great third period.
Guy Carbonneau said his team played three minutes against the Sabres. The coach’s math be a little off: Canadiens got two points by scoring three goals in a shade over six minutes.
And the goals, Christopher Higgins said, "fell from the sky". It’s not like momentum had swung to the visitor’s bench when Tomas Plekanec scored on a power play to launch the comeback.
Sometimes you win games you’re not supposed to. And sometimes you lose games you ought to have won. It tends to balance out over the course of a season.
What’s nice is when Lady Luck sidles over to your bench and whispers "Hi sailor" in late March. If she sticks around for a few drinks in April, who knows where it might lead in May.
The game was a wake-up call for Canadiens. They won after playing poorly and providing the coaching staff with many talking points about complacency, indiscipline and lack of focus and intensity.
Alex Kovalev chalked it up to three days off this week. There was no practice on Tuesday, off-ice drills on Wednesday. Kovy thought the lack of daily skating showed up on the ice at the HSBC Arena.
• Canadiens got another solid outing from Carey Price. The kid made 35 saves and looked his usual cucumber-cool self making them. I don’t know whether it’s Rollie Melanson’s coaching or Price’s tendency to shine in clutch games, but technical gaffes and occasions when he’s played deep in his net or gone down too early have been few and far between in March – which augurs well for April.
• Ryan O’Byrne played 14 minutes and had five hits to lead both teams. He is maturing rapidly at just the right time of the season.
• Christopher Higgins had seven shots. The game turned in the Sabres’ favour after his muffed breakaway, but he atoned with the first OT goal of his career.
• While most of his teammates would probably like to play a schedule of 82 games against Boston, Tomas Plekanec would insist on a few with Buffalo. He’s got seven goals in seven games against the Sabres this season.
• Mark Streit has 46 asists – six more than Saku Koivu.
• I thought Bryan Smolinski, Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Bégin were excellent.
• Maxim Lapierre did nothing 5-on-5 but shone on the PK, which has allowed two goals in 29 shorthanded situations over the last six games. Props to Carbo and his staff: this is an area in which Canadiens have really improved late in the season.
• One of my favourites, Sergei K., bounced around a couple lines, took a bad penalty and didn’t make any of his trademark pinpoint passes.
• Sabres iced the puck three times in the dying seconds of the game. It finally cost them after Pleks lost a couple faceoffs (he was 14-9 on the night). You have to feel for Buffalo: what a crusher! They’re toast.
It will be interesting to see who, aside from Carey Price, sits out in Toronto tonight.
I’d stick with the same lineup because a win would pretty much sew up the Northeast Division and ensure no worse than a second seeding (highly desirable if Washington sneaks into eighth).