We take you now to the media scrum outside the Canadiens’ dressing room after their Shootout loss to Buffalo.
“What are the odds,” Patrick V. Hickey asks, “that the goaltender will be in the room?”
Consensus: 10-1 against.
But we were wrong.
As the cameras, microphones and notebooks swarmed around Max Pacioretty, whose stall is just inside the door, Price could be spotted off in the distance.
While Pacioretty continued to answer questions and TSN’s Michael Whalen moved on to Brian Gionta, Price rose from his seat and spat out: “F— off!”
To no one in particular.
Maybe to himself.
The next sounds were the crash of equipment being thrown around where Price had gone, the hallway leading to an area that is off-limits to the media.
We could hear him yelling another F-bomb later.
The goaltender was not happy.
And why should he be?
Price was left hung out to dry during the eight-shot bombardment with which Buffalo began the third period. You couldn’t fault him on either of the goals that tied the game because snipers like Jason Pominville don’t often miss wide-open chances created by a dominating forecheck and confusion among defenders in red jerseys.
You knew that if Buffalo popped an early one in the third period, they’d be right back in the game.
And you knew after yet another inept Canadiens’ power play, the Sabres would be stoked by their successful kill and come hard for the typing goal.
Which is what happened.
Postgame opinions differed on whether the Canadiens had been excessively passive in defence of their 2-0 lead.
Some players seemed to think so, but their coach disagreed.
“They just wanted it more,” P.K. Subban said. “Shift after shift, they kept coming in waves. And we couldn’t answer back.”
Erik Cole, who was on the ice for both Buffalo goals, suggested it might have been “better to go at them, push the puck forward, get in on the forecheck and do the things we’d been doing.”
Jacques Martin said, however, the Canadiens didn’t plan to sit back and protect their 2-0 lead. When Buffalo cranked up the pressure, Martin said, they were able to take advantage of “youth at the back end.”
After playing a team-leading 8:49 in the first period, Jaro Spacek took a heavy hit from Paul Gautsad and was done for the night after two shifts in the second period.
Spacek had been paired with Alexei Emelin in a patchwork Canadiens defence ravaged by the absence of Andrei Markov, Chris Campoli and a late scratch, Hal Gill.
Once Spatcho went down the blueline corps was reduced to Josh Gorges, sophomores Subban and Yannick Weber and two newcomers to the NHL, Emelin and Raphael Diaz.
Gorges and Diaz were on for Pominville’s goal, Subban and Emelin for Roy’s. The inexperienced D were sadly overmatched against Buffalo’s top line: Roy, Pominville and the ever-dangerous Thomas Vanek.
A positive from the game: The Canadiens have a clear-cut top line … albeit one centred by a guy generously listed at 5’7″ who wasn’t drafted and spent a season playing in the ECHL.
But David Desharnais is flanked by thoroughbreds: Cole and Pacioretty.
Cole had five shots on goal and continues to display speed and intensity that speak to the pride and competitiveness of a player on the wrong side of 30 who’s signed a big contract.
Max-Pac is on pace for 39 goals. His comeback from what we all thought was a life-threatening injury is nothing short of remarkable.
Let’s hope Pacioretty didn’t use up all the recuperation karma, because the team desperately need a healthy Andrei Markov.
The Canadiens got a power-play goal by Cole and it was a thing of beauty: a one-timer off Subban’s seeing-eye feed.
But the PP ranks 26th in the league. Tomas Plekanec is lost at the point. and no one has the hard- accurate shot we used to see from Sheldon Souray, Marc-André Bergeron and James Wisniewski.
Because the power-play is so weak, opponents tend to take liberties. Displaying a mean streak that was not on display against Boston when Milan Lucic tried to kill their franchise goalie, the Sabres slapped the Canadiens around pretty good, taking three penalties for slashing, two for roughing and one for cross-checking.
As usual, Canadiens’ infractions were of the pussy-ass variety: two trips, an interference and a goaltender interference on Cole – like they weren’t gonna call THAT after what happened to Ryan Miller.
Oh, the home team took one roughing call – on noted hooligan David Desharnais, who hooked up with fellow Smurf Nathan Gerbe.
Gaustad, who was on the ice wjhen Miller got nailed and did nothing, had seven hits. Patrick Kaleta was his usual annoying self.
There wasn’t much in the way of push-back, although Emelin had five hits and played a solid 16:31.
Suggested topic for Commentariat ranting:
Lars Eller played 11 minutes.
Scott Gomez played 18:25, including four minutes on the power-play.
All together now, inspired by Carey Price: F————————-!
• • •
The loss was the first this season in a game the Canadiens were leading after two periods.
• In Phoenix on Saturday, the Canadiens were outshot 10-7 in the third period, lost their 2-1 lead but won in OT
• On Nov. 4 in Ottawa, they surrendered a shorty to Zack Smith and were outshot 16-4 but hung on for a 2-1 win.
• Against Boston on Oct. 29, the Canadiens were outshot 12-3 in the third period and surrendered a goal with less than a minute to playbut got an empty-netter to win 4-2
• On Oct. 26 against Philadelphia, the Canadiens outshot the Flyers 12-4 and got two third-period goals to win 5-1.
• In Winnipeg on Oct. 9, the Canadiens took a 2-0 lead into the third period, were outshot 14-6 but won 5-1