What’s to be said about a crazy game like that?
Shall we accentuate the positive?
Everyone thought it was all over but the crying 13 minutes into the second period. The Penguins, who had looked much the better team to that point, scored three unanswered goals to go ahead 4-2.
Done and dusted.
But your Montreal Canadiens did not quit.
They clawed back to tie it.
They took a 5-4 lead and blew it
They trailed 6-5 and tied it again to send the game into OT, gaining a point that might be valuable when April 28 rolls around and the NHL is filling out postseason dance cards.
So credit the lads with character and resilience.
Brendan Gallagher cemented his spot on a line with David Desharnais and MaxPacioretty, the only Canadiens trio that ended the game intact. I’m very keen to see Gallagher against the Bruins on Sunday evening.
Brian Gionta, who went seven games without scoring in February, found the net for the second straight game and had his first two-goal effort of the season.
P.K. Subban scored the goal that made it 4-4 and played 22:19 – up from the high-teens games with which Michel Therrien eased him back into the Canadiens defensive rotation. By the end of the game, P.K. was partnered with Josh Gorges on the second pairing, and that’s probably where we’ll see him in Boston … even though Gorges was minus-3 and they were on for Brandon Sutter’s overtime winner.
Max Pacioretty had seven shots on goal (as did Pittsburgh’s Sutter) and scored his seventh goal in as many games. Max-Pac has arrived for the 2013 season. He and the super pest on right wing have brought DD’s game to life.
Oh, and Tomas Kaberle had two assists and was plus-3 in 12:36 of ice time.
Thus endeth the positives. I may have omitted a couple. It was a hectic night.
Carey Price was lousy. Any goaltender who gives up a converted touchdown is off his game.
But Price didn’t get much help, as evidenced by the 14 shots fired at him by the Penguins in the first period. Pittsburgh was the first opponent to rack up a double-digit first-period shot total since the Leafs had 12 on that Saturday night we have tried to forget – an amnesia aided and abetted by how well the Canadiens had played in the three weeks since.
And with all due respect to Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur, James Van Riemsdyk and the other stars of that Leaf romp, they aren’t Sidney Crosby, James Neal, and Chris Kunitz.
And Dion Phaneuf isn’t Kris Letang.
Even without Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh lineup packs firepower equalled by few in the league. The Penguins have size, skill, the incomparable Crosby and, on Saturday night, a game plan that pressured the Canadiens, reducing the home team’s time and space as few have managed to do this season.
So while all the usual suspects crawl out their damp places under rocks to knock Price – some caller to the TSN 690 postgame show suggested the Canadiens trade their franchise goaltender for a big centre – the Canadiens lost this one as a team.
That said, even the most enthusiastic Price fans – and I count myself among them – have to acknowledge our boy has yet to steal a game for the Canadiens this season. Maybe Sunday in Boston, since I’m pretty sure Therrien will come back with his number one goaltender against the Bruins.
I’ll not hazard a guess as to the coach’s forward lines, other than the DD unit.
By the third period on Saturday night, Lars Eller had replaced Tomas Plekanec between Brandon Prust and Gionta, while Tomas Plekanec was centring Michael Ryder and Alex Galchenyuk. Travis Moen also had a couple shifts on that line, as Galchenyuk struggled and played 11:15 – less than any other forward except Ryan White.
Perhaps Therrien will just write off the 7-6 gong show as the aberration it was and go back to the forward lines and defence pairings that had carried the Canadiens to the lofty perch atop the Eastern Conference from which the Bruins dislodged them by beating Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The Canadiens can regain top spot by winning in Boston.
After losing to the Leafs three Saturdays ago, the Canadiens went down to Florida and beat the Lightning to begin a five-game winning streak.
They have not lost a game in regulation since the Leaf Laugher, picking up at least a point in 10 straight starts.
That streak was not built on the basis of the kind of run-and-gun hockey the Canadiens tried to play against a Pittsburgh team that has superior runners and gunners.
It will doubtless be back to basics against the Bs.