Tonight was a good night for the Habs. They survived the critical first 10 minutes on the road, then proceeded to play a perfect road game to beat the 9th place Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1.
This isn’t the same rivalry that it was. There was little fire and little passion, but there was some good defensive hockey and solid goaltending on both sides. Carey Price played exceptionally well, only giving up a goal on a breakaway to Montreal native Matthew Lombardi. He ended the night having made 32 out of 33 saves for a save percentage of 0.969.
On another positive note, tonight marked Rene Bourque‘s first goal in a Habs uniform. It came on a broken play in front of Jonas Gustavsson at 18:26 of the first period. It was his 14th of the season, and assisted by Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole. Bourque didn’t get a good chance to bask in that, as the Habs gave up a breakaway immediately after leaving Lombardi open to pot one blocker side on Price less than a minute later.
The win tonight was big, no doubt about it. The bad news is that the Florida-Winnipeg game went to a shootout, giving Winnipeg a point and Florida would go on to win the game. The Islanders also won in overtime tonight against Carolina. As I am writing this, Buffalo is down 2-1 to St. Louis with with 13:00 minutes left in the third period. The Canadiens, with one more game played than the teams in front, have a steep climb ahead of them into contention.
To date, I haven’t seen a team that has put on a consistent enough effort to win a bunch of games in a row to put them closer to the pack. If tonight’s effort can be that starting point, then that would be awesome. I think they may have left it a little to late at this point, with 5 teams sitting between them and the final playoff spot. It would be a difficult climb, particularly when their powerplay is currently the worst in the league.
Finally, here are my positives and negatives on tonight’s win against the Leafs:
– Rene Bourque‘s 14th of the year, first as a Hab. He was exactly where he should be, in front of the net whacking at a loose puck. He played well, seems to be developing some chemistry with Plekanec. I like what he brought tonight.
– Honestly, none beside the powerplay tonight. That needs to be better with the players available.