The winning streak ends not with a bang but a whistle.
A whole series of them.
The Canadiens, playing the second game of a road back-to-back, took a mind-blowing 10 minor penalties.
Max Pacioretty went to the box for boarding less than two minutes into the game.
Shortly thereafter, a very marginal interference call on Michael Blunden accompanied yet another Too Many Men penalty against the Canadiens bench.
On the same sequence, Petteri Nokelainen – faceoff specialist and penalty-killer – was bounced out of the game with Rangers defenceman Michael Sauer. I figured that might be a good trade for the Canadiens if they could use their speed and get a decent forecheck going to pressure the five New York Dmen left in the game.
The Canadiens were assessed the next five penalties. The PK had a great night, conceding only that 5-on-3 goal, but the cumulative effect of spending all that time shorthanded was disruption of the forward lines and, ultimately, fatigue among the penalty-killers.
Jaro Spacek played 5:52 on the PK. The man is 37 years old, for heaven’s sake.
Hal Gill, who’s 36, killed penalties for 8:35.
Josh Gorges is still young – and that’s a good thing, because he played an exhausting 10:09 with the Canadiens shorthanded.
That five-man Rangers defence corps had it easier. Dean Morton and Tim Peel, in their wisdom, called only two minors on the home team.
Let’s not get into a whole Referees Conspiracy discussion here.
But when one team has nine power plays and the other has two, it’s not a great night for the zebras.
P.K. for a snow shower?
Meanwhile, at the ACC, the big, bad Bruins and truculent Leafs each took one minor through the first 40 minutes of a one-sided game.
The Canadiens’ parade to the box disrupted their rhythm. The banishment of Nokelainen meant Jacques Martin had to go with three lines. Blunden played three shifts, a total of 49 SECONDS in the game. Mathieu Darche played eight minutes, but half of that was on the PK.
And for all that, the Canadiens gave the Rangers a game.
They came back from 3-0 and 4-2 to make things interesting.
Lars Eller’s line – with red-hot Andrei Kostitsyn and hard-working Travis Moen – was excellent.
Max Pacioretty had seven shots and Brian Gionta finally scored a goal. Their centre, Tomas Plekanec, went 9-16 on draws, but cripes, he had to help kill all those penalties.
Erik Cole had six hits, four shots, some good scoring chances and several rushes down the wing that had an old geezer like me remembering the glory days of Eddie Shack.
Carey Price was deep in the blue paint on the Brad Richards goal that came at the end of the second period and was a dagger to the Canadiens’ heart. But Price was screened by Yannick Weber, and Richards has scored a goal or two in the league.
I noticed some in the Commentariat knocking Price, to which I have some words of avuncular advice:
STFU, you ignorant bozos.
Ah, that felt good.
And no one should feel terribly bad.
All those penalties made it a stupid game, best filed and forgotten.
To their credit, the Canadiens never quit … right up until the moment P.K. Subban followed the puck into the vacated net.
The young, fast, amazing Edmonton Oilers are at the Bell Centre Tuesday night.