It was a contest that gave fans every aspect of the game they could possibly handle.
The Detroit Red Wings came into the Bell Centre in Montreal on a upward streak, so no one expected them to be down three goals to the Habs in what seemed like an easy fashion.
But as any NHL fan knows, you never count Detroit out of a game. You don’t go to the post-season for 23 straight years without a reason. They certainly showed some of those reasons last night.
Michael Bournival was the opening legend for Les Boys as he opened the scoring at 14:16 of the first period, giving the Canadiens a promising start. In a game that started extremely quick paced and fairly open – as expected between these two clubs – it was a good way to leave the ice for the first intermission. Montreal seemed to set the pace at times during the first twenty minutes, but even when they weren’t, they were keeping pace.
That all changed during the second period. Montreal seemed to lose speed. They were terribly outshot, and yet Max Pacioretty managed to net his 39th of the season with a fabulous break that showed his size, speed, and incredibly accurate hands as he went top left on Gustavsson. Captain Brian Gionta, playing in his 300th game as a Canadien followed that up with a wrist shot (16) that seemed to put La Flanelle into the drivers seat for the night.
But momentum continued to shift in Detroit’s direction late in the second, and it clearly carried over into the third.
By 10:44 of the final frame Niklas Kronwall (probably feeling defeated from allowing Pacioretty to get around him for the Habs second goal) had sniped a power play point shot that Price had no chance of seeing, and all was tied. That was following a 36 second meltdown by the Canadiens that saw Datsyuk and Glendening (who signed a contract extension that afternoon) bring their team within one.
In the past few games, the number three has played a big part for Les Boys. They have found themselves down by three, and rallied for the win, and they have found themselves up by three, only to face a tie and a fierce fight for 2 points.
In the end, it was the Captain that pulled through, barely staying onside and firing a seemingly harmless puck at the blue paint. It should have been harmless, but instead it managed to rebound off Gustavsson into a defender, and then into the net for the go ahead goal. Alex Galchenyuk then tipped in his thirteenth of the year to seal the deal.
With the score 5-3, that meant two things. Late game insurance for the home team, and free wings from La Cage aux Sports. It truly was Wing night in Montreal.
This was not the Habs best performance as once again they were outplayed for a good portion of the game, and outshot terribly. Something that will not work to their advantage in post season play going potentially seven straight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They are placing a considerable portion of responsibility on the man between the pipes, and that will assuredly be Carey Price come April 16th.
The PowerPlay went 0-3 last night and special teams is something that is definitely lacking for the organization right now.
Another notable was Subban getting 18:52 of ice time. Still not enough in order for this team to be defensively solid. However, seeing he was benched by Therrien in the last outing, at least he saw increased ice time. But it won’t be enough until he’s playing closer to 27 minutes.
By the time the night drew to a close however, and the last fan left The Bell, Montreal had managed to accomplish what they had set out to do. Earn another two points against a tough Eastern Conference team, and thanks to Dallas, pick up another two points for home ice advantage, as the Stars defeated the Lightning.
Next up is a tougher challenge as the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks play host to the Canadiens on Wednesday night.
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