Let me start by expressing just how delighted i am to see Ryan White back in the lineup. White, missed 57 games due to an injury that he suffered during an exhibition contest and he showed very early on this evening why Montreal needs him: intensity. White wasted no time whatsoever creating a turnover on his first shift and nearly getting a shot-on-goal as a result. Not long after, he dropped the gloves against Adam McQuaid and most definitely held his ground. This sparked something within the fans and within the team. In fact, I credit outright, Ryan White , with being the catalyst behind the inspired performance of the home team this evening. While, Alexei Emelin certainly needs no prodding to bruise his opponents, he might just have had Ryan White’s actions in mind when he crushed Shawn Thornton into the boards early in the first.
Despite this inspiration, however, Boston did score the first goal with just less than 3 minutes remaining in the opening period. Hal Gill most definitely should get an assist on the Andrew Ference goal. He coughed up the puck behind the Habs net and Brad Marchand got the disc over to Ference who wristed it past Carey Price from the point. A disappointed giant then took responsibility and apologized to his goaltender. Regardless, the damage was already done: 1-0 Bruins. It stayed that way through to the end of the first at which point the visitors had outshot the Habs 12-5…while I do not think that the Canadiens played poorly or that they lacked intensity, in fact the opposite is true, I reckon that our team is not going to win too many contests with that number of shots per period.
On a bit of a sidenote, i feel the need to comment on an incident that took place towards the end of the first period. I remember that Jean Beliveau used to captain the Habs and his popularity was incalculable…and it still is. He is recognized to be one of the classiest players to ever participate in the NHL. Pray tell, then, how fans can revere such a man and then demonstrate such a lack of elegance in cheering when Zdeno Chara got clocked in the face with a forceful clearing attempt off the stick of Tomas Plekanec. Ludicrous, gutless, and embarrassing. I was ashamed at that moment of being a Montrealer just as i am horrified when spectators at the Bell Centre boo during the performance of the Star Spangled Banner.
The second frame opened in quite the positive manner. PK Subban, demonstrating incredible poise and patience skated down through the offensive zone and fed Matthieu Darche at the last possible moment from the side of the net, setting up the latter for a glorious, highlight reel tip-in. Darche who had been a shell of the player he was last season is finally waking up and contributing nicely of late. Tie-game 1-1. Another cool thing about that goal is that it was scored in a shorthanded situation. Nicely done, boys…nicely done!
The thrill did not last forever, though. From a scoring perspective, the remainder of the 2nd belonged to the Bruins. Former Hab mega-underachiever, Benoit Pouliot made Chris Campoli look like a pee-wee rec league player when he completely undressed him before putting the puck behind Price. Granted, Pouliot made an absolutely brilliant play but Campoli has to be better than that if he is to be given any ice time whatsoever. This was Benny’s first goal in the past 15 games and represents his 9th on the season. Nine minutes later just as Montreal had defended successfully against a 4 on 3 with what seemed to be an enormous amount of ice for the Bruins to work with, Patrice Bergeron roofed one into the far corner from a seemingly impossible angle. The Bruins were enjoying a 5 on 4 situation at the time with Eric Cole serving time for goaltender interference.
Oddly enough there were 4 penalties assigned for this type of infraction and three of these were against the Canadiens. Randy Cunneyworth absolutely lost it when Cole was sentenced. He directed at least 3 F-Bombs towards the refs and appeared to be livid. To be honest it was quite refreshing to witness some emotion/passion behind the Canadiens’ bench. I don’t think that Jacques Martin would have shown nearly that much agitation. Nice to see…nice to see. I understand his frustration. Here we have the GM and the coaching staff imploring the participants to establish a net presence in an effort to score from the dirty areas and their reward for following the instructions to the letter is 2 minutes in the sin-bin. Cunneyworth was right to be angry…i would have been as well. 3-1 Bruins after 2.
Well, any Habs fan knows that it is better for the team to go into the third period when they are trailing so that was a bit of a relief…i am not even kidding! Max Pacioretty was the first to get things going 3:34 into the final frame. This was his 24th goal of the campaign. There was hope after all. Less than 8 minutes later, you guessed it, Eric Cole, who should be nicknamed The Messiah, tied it up on a gorgeous goal by the side of the net. He took posession of the puck of of a giveaway by Zdeno Chara, faked a move thereby forcing Tim Thomas to commit and beat him cleanly with his 22nd goal. Man Alive how solid is that Desharnais, Cole, & Pacioretty line? Phenomenal! Their efforts and creativity certainly give us reason to cheer! The Habs, in stark contrast to their usual pattern, dominated the third and outshot the opponent 10-2 and that, folks, is why it took extra time for this one to be settled.
Overtime offered no resolution. But that is not to say that it was not exciting. With Tomas Plekanec still serving time for the delay of game penalty he was assessed when he cleared the puck over the glass, the Bruins were given the opportunity to threaten. They outshot Montreal 7-3. Still, a shootout was required to settle the affair.
I did not know how to feel about this. Certainly the Bruins had to be favoured (6-1 in shootout) but i recalled that Nos Glorieux (2-7 in shootout) thus defeated the Penguins 8 days ago. I am sorry to inform you that Bourque, Pacioretty, and Eller failed to score while Tyler Seguin put one behind Price after David Krecji had hit the post on his attempt. Bruins take it 4-3.
While this one was a heartbreaker, i can not go to bed angry with my Habs. They played their hearts out and offered the fans a hard-hitting, physical, intense, passionate, uplifting performance. What more can we ask? I will accept a loss any day if the flipside is a game that was as entertaining as this one was. Tonight’s engagement truly represents what hockey is all about.
So where does that leave us? Well, the Habs are now 8 points out of the 8th place which Toronto occupies. Both teams have played the same number of games. The team is off until Friday when it pays a visit to the Buffalo Sabres before heading home for a Sunday evening matchup with the New Jersey Devils.
That is my side of the story. For an alternate version of the same event, check out Causeway Crowd at http://causewaycrowd.com/.
Go Habs Go!!!