Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Tuesday night’s game between the Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks at the Bell Centre:
Brian Gionta received an opportunity to play on the Canadiens’ top line and made the most of it as he scored a goal and added two assists in a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
“I’d like to think that I gave them a lift,” a smiling Gionta said after he assisted on goals by Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. “Check the scoresheet and you’ll see they didn’t help me on my goal.”
Gionta’s goal proved to be the winner on a night when the score wasn’t indicative of the play. The Canadiens outshot the Blackhawks 42-16 and were leading 4-0 when Victor Stalberg spoiled Carey Price’s shutout bid at 13:35 of the third period.
Gionta scored a power-play goal at 10:05 of the second period to give Montreal a 3-0 lead. He was in the right place at the right time when Tomas Kaberle launched a slapshot from the point. Corey Crawford managed to get his blocker on the shot, but the rebound went out to Gionta.
“The goalie was off balance and he couldn’t react quick enough,” Gionta said.
Max Pacioretty opened the scoring for the Canadiens with his 11th of the season at 4:41 of the first period and Lars Eller scored at 10:09 on a scramble in front after Crawford stopped a shot by Travis Moen.
David Desharnais made it 4-0 at 11:04 of the third period when he took a drop pass from Pacioretty.
“He’s usually setting me up, but I was dealing with a bouncing puck and I left it for Davey and tried to create some traffic in front,” Pacioretty said.
Brent Seabrook scored the other Chicago goal with 17 seconds remaining in the game. Coach Michel Therrien said he switched Gionta and Erik Cole to create more balance on his top two lines. He said that the trio of Rene Bourque, Tomas Plekanec and Cole turned in a strong effort even if they didn’t made the scoresheet.
“They spent most of the night matched against (Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Kane and they didn’t give them any room out there,” Therrien said. “Pleky dominated Toews on the faceoffs. If they don’t have the puck, they can’t hurt you.”
Next up for the Canadiens is a pair of games against the Sabres Thursday in Buffalo and Saturday at the Bell Centre.
(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)