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 Saturday night’s game between the Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre
No problem for the Canadiens as long as they have defenceman Andrei Markov in the lineup.
Markov was the only player to score in the shootout Saturday night as the Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. It marked the third time this season that Markov has scored the game-winner in a shootout.
“He was our fifth shooter the last time and I thought it was time to move him up,” said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien , who used Markov as his second shooter after James Reimer stopped Tomas Plekanec.
Therrien didn’t have to use Max Pacioretty because Carey Price stopped Mikhail Grabovski, Phil Kessel and Jake Gardiner.
“Normally I like to shoot first but Carey was playing really well in the third period and I thought he would put some pressure on them,” said Therrien.
Markov’s heroics weren’t confined to the shootout. He scored a power-play goal at 13:53 of the second period to pull the Canadiens even at 2-2.
The Leafs dominated the first period and Gardiner opened the scoring at 13:04 when Price left a rebound on a shot by Kessel.
Grabovski, who started his NHL career in Montreal and delights in scoring against his former team, gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead when he scored on a setup from Gardiner at 5:02 of the second period. At the time, the Leafs were outshooting the Canadiens 17-4.
The momentum changed when Pacioretty, who had missed Thursday’s game against New Jersey because of the flu, scored at 10:22.
“I wasn’t sure whether I was going to play,” said Pacioretty, who also earned an assist on Markov’s goal. “I wasn’t feeling good this morning and I skipped the morning skate. I slept a lot but I woke up around 3:30 and I felt better. The coach said we’d make a decision after the warmup but I knew I was going to play.”
Price finished the game with 38 saves, including 14 in the third period and three in the overtime. Reimer faced 23 shots.
“They were pushing hard for the win and they had lots of shots but the guys didn’t give them any second chances,” said Price.
The Canadiens wrap up a three-game homestand Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.