As it is, the Canadiens head into their Saturday night date with the Leafs stressing some positives … rather than brooding about a 4-1 lead that melted away like doggie doots down a drainpipe in a thunderstorm.
This wasn’t the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks or Detroit Red Wings pumping three goals past Carey Price in less than four minutes.
The perpetrators of the late-game explosion were the second-lowest-scoring team in the NHL.
And the Wild scored the last two goals of their unlikely comeback against the Canadiens’ top defence pairing.
The three deficit-erasing goals came with the Canadiens’ top forward line on the ice.
And the franchise goaltender put himself in trouble with an inept attempt to clear the puck the length of the ice … and possibly score.
It was a mess, but the Canadiens can file and forget it because Devin Setoguchi turned his shootout attempt into slapstick comedy.
It was the perfect ending to an evening rich in farcical elements – including a fight 10 seconds into the game and a spectacular body check in which Erik Cole went flying over Alexei Emelin.
But for all the comedy, this was a tough game. Minnesota isn’t very good – especially without captain Mikko Koivu in the lineup. But the Wild have size, and they’re inclined to s – particularly in proximity to opposition goaltenders.
That they were not allowed to run Price with impunity was a tribute to the brand spanking new identity the Canadiens decided to adopt 65 games into their miserable season.
I had an interesting conversation with Bobby Dollas after the first period. The well-travelled former NHL defenceman, who does colour commentary for TSN 990′s game broadcasts, said he was glad to see Ryan White and Brad Staubitz suiting up.
The two tough guys, Dolas said, “make everyone else play bigger.”
So we saw David Desharnais, the Canadiens’ diminutive top scorer, getting involced in scrums.
Petteri Nokelainen had a couple hits and took a roughing penalty.
Blake Geoffrion and Yannick Weber also drew minors for roughing.
So is this what we’re going to see going forward? The Mountain St. Maulers, dropping ‘em and bopping ‘em, 700 kilometres north of Philadelphia.
Look, a team with DD and Tomas Plakenac as its top two centres – plus two Swiss defencemen – is not going to terrify anyone. And we all remember the BGL debacle.
But a common theme in the Canadiens’ room was the necessity to stand up for each other.
Slash Carey Price, as Stéphane Veilleux did, and White is going to throw a few.
Cheap-shot Emelin and retribution will be inflicted.
It’s not my favourite kind of hockey.
But Dollas played the game and understands it better than I. If White and Staubitz can make the ice safer for DD, Pleks and the other skill guys, I’ll buy into their value.
And if the Canadiens can get each other’s backs through the final 17 games of the season, that has to be a positive for players who are going to be part of the long-term solution.
• • •
• Of Scott Gomez’s 5:55 ToI, 2:02 was on the power-play. David Desharnais had 6:04 of PP time.
• Max Pacioretty led both teams with seven shots on goal.
• P.K. Subban played a ridiculous 30:48. Of his seven shots, four missed the net.
• Alexei Emelin had seven hits to five for Cal Clutterbuck.
• Eleven Minesota players ended the game on the plus side of the ledger. Ten Canadiens were minuses – including Erik Cole, who was minus-3.