Give the L’Antichambre guys credit: I’m watching a lotta love for Scott Gomez here.
This after Benoit Brunet’s ridiculous sign-off on the game teklecast: “Scott Gomez n’a pas joué un mauvais match.”
He didn’t play a bad game?
Benny, what were they serving in the media lounge?
The much-maligned number 11 was not the best Canadien on the ice in Tampa.
That would be Carey Price … again.
Price made 43 saves, bringing his road trip total to 113. His teammates blocked another 24 and Tampa Bay fired wide 12 times.
A busy night. But Price betrayed no signs of stress from beginning to end.
Man, he’s good.
Runner-up Man of the Match: Hal Gill, who played 24:26, including 5:55 on the penalty-kill.
But let’s give Gomez some props.
Supposedly injured – he’s blown off a couple optional skates – Gomez skated hard on every shift. He’s often done that this season.
What was different tonight was Gomez’s playmaking. He consistently made clever plays on the Tampa Bay D and good passes to his linemates, Max Pacioretty, who had two goals, and Brian Gionta.
Yes, his contract is ridiculous.
But as was the case last season and into the playoffs, Gomez (almost) earns his money when the Canadiens need him most.
And he doesn’t take nights off.
I thought the 5-on-3 penalty kill turned the game.
But Tampa Bay made the last six minutes of the third period interesting – largely because the minutes of the Top Four D caught up with them. Roman Hamrlik had to play 23:07 – about four minutes in excess of what’s desirable. And James Wisniewsky was at 22:39.
The problem was a shaky third pairing. I like Yannick Weber’s future with this team, but Brent Sopel looked better with Alexandre Picard in Florida than he did tonight with the undersized Weber.
Of course, the Panthers aren’t the Lightning. Tampa Bay has a lot of star power. Credit Jacques Martin and his staff with a game plan that yielded a lot of shots, yes, but kept the most dangers guys – Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier – under control.
Well, mostly. Vinny had six SoG and a late goal to make it interesting and went 14-7 on draws. But the most dangerous Tampa Bay forward was Dominic Moore, and I like the Canadiens’ chances in that situation.
They’ve strung together four road wins for the first time this season.
The Canadiens are closer to the first-place Flyers than they are to the eighth-place Hurricanes.
The conquest of the Southeast raised the team’s road record to a finally-respectable 16-15-1.
And their goal differential is plus-9.
The Kiddie Corps continues to shine.
• Max-Pac has 14 goals, seven on the PP. He plays hard every shift and has become an in-your-face handful for opposing Dmen and goaltenders
• Lars Eller took two penalties, but Guy Boucher matched Stamkos against him and the Canadiens rookie didn’t embarrass himself.
• P.K. Subban was finally used 1:20 into a second-period power play. The Canadiens scored, and he picked up an assist. Coincidence?
As one Commenter pointed out, P.K. has 29 points in 61 games this season. As a rookie in 2000-’01, Andrei Markov had 23 points in 63 GP.
It was a great trip.