Feb 17, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Andrei Kostitsyn (46) celebrates a goal by center Scott Gomez (11) past Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) during the first period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Montreal Canadiens Outlast Buffalo Sabres 4-3 In Rare Shootout Victory

Not a bad road game.  Not a great road game.  A few surprises along the way.  Not included in the surprise category is the fact that Montreal once again blew a lead going into the third period.  Thankfully, the team was able to hang on against the Buffalo Sabres and seal the deal in the shootout to improve its record in this capacity to 3-8…still not something to boast about but certainly an aspect of the game in which the Montreal Canadiens are showing some improvement having won 2 of the last three games that were decided in that fashion.

Several defensive lapses made this one closer than it needed to be and in fact nearly cost the Habs the game.  Did we underestimate Hal Gill’s prowess and contribution when we shipped him off to Nashville?!  There is no reason whatsoever, for example, that Sabre Robin Regehr had the time and space that he was granted when he scored the first goal of the game and his first of the season early on in the opening period.  Bam!  Just like that: Sabres 1-0…

While we are on the subject of defensive deficiencies, allow me to express that even though Montreal had tied it up at 1 apiece on a goal by Kaberle that was scored 3 seconds after the expiry of a Canadiens power play, another soft play on defence led directly to the Sabres 2nd goal.  Josh Gorges failed on a clearing attempt and then the Canadiens’ players lost the puck battle along the boards.  Result?  Derek Roy skates in and nearly makes his way in the clear before Ryan White intercepts but the puck finds Tyler Myers who makes no mistake and blows in by Carey Price.  2-1 Sabres.

Give Le Club du Hockey Canadien credit for coming back again.  The team did not give up and the inspired line of Gomez, White, and Kostistsyn made some interesting stuff happen at the tail end of the first on a power play!  Will miracles never cease???!!   The goal came on a nice effort by Ryan White who forced a turnover…man i love his intensity and his grit…the puck ends up on Yannick Weber’s stick and i am about to ask aloud why he is still being used on the power play when he feeds Gomez perfectly for the latter’s 2nd  goal of the season.  Goes to show how little this blogger knows.  Scotty`s 2nd goal on the year also marked his 2nd power play goal of the campaign…Shame on you who think that he has not contributed (read in a tongue-in-cheek tone of voice)!!!!  End of first: tied at 2!

Yet another surprise manifest itself at 11:28 elapsed in the middle period.  Number 17, bet many of you do not even know who that is (Chris Campoli) gives Montreal a 3-2 lead.   Ryan White gets credited with an assist.  I cannot say enough great things about #53 (White).  He exemplifies what hockey is all about: playing your heart out and doing everything necessary to help the team win whether that be a big hit, or a willingness to drop the gloves, or forcing a turnover, or whatever else that this individual does so well on a nightly basis.

Shoddy defence came to the forefront yet again at the end of the 2nd frame when Buffalo came very, very close to reclaiming the lead.  A deep-pinching and unattended Robin Regehr nearly potted his second of the game, and of the season, when he was fed a beautiful pass that he managed to one time nicely.  Carey Price, however, demonstrating incredible anticipation and panther-like lateral mobility thwarted him.   That is the kind of goaltending that turns games around.  That is the kind of goaltending that earned the Habs 2 points tonight…

Things did not improve defensively in the third frame.  With 11:55 elapsed, Desharnais and Kaberle miscommunicated and double-teamed the same man in front of the Canadiens’ net leaving a wide-open Tyler Ennis to tie the game at 3 apiece.  Catastrophe!  From hero to goat also went Chris Campoli who lost the battle behind the net that led to the eventual goal on the same play.  3-3!!  Wow!  When leading after 2 periods Montreal only manages to hang on to win 74% of the time.  Only two teams in the entire league have a worse record in that regard, namely the Islanders and the Blue Jackets…

Overtime did not provide the solution to the stalemate.  It did not help yet again that Montreal incurred a penalty during the extra frame.  In this instance, the untimely call went against Max Pacioretty for tripping.  As a result, i suppose, the Habs got zero shots on goal to the 3 that the Sabres managed to direct at Carey Price.

So off to the shootout we go!!!  Price finally looked like the goalie we saw in the World Juniors who stymied the opponents over and over again in the same scenario.  He made beautiful saves against Brad Boyes and Jason Pominville.  He appeared to be alert, confident, and patient as he frustrated the Sabres attackers.  Miller, his counterpart at the other end of the ice was less poised and less successful.  Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais both scored on shots that the Buffalo goaltender got a piece of but could not control. Game Over!  Habs emerge victorious in shootout!!

The victory catapults the Habs from 13th to 11th place in the Eastern Conference.  Montreal now stands 6 points behind 8th placed, idle Toronto Maple Leafs which now enjoys a game in hand.  Montreal will be inactive until Sunday evening when it will host the New Jersey Devils while the Leafs will play in an All-Canadian matchup on Saturday night against the Canucks in Vancouver.

Positives

  • Power play goal by Gomez
  • Montreal outhits the Sabres by an 18-9 margin
  • Great goaltending by Carey Price
  • Eric Cole gets to wear the A now that Hal Gill has been traded…CONGRATS ERIC!!!
  • Montreal successfully kills all 3 penalties that are called against the team

Negatives

  • Montreal is outshot and only manages 19 shots on goal
  • Shoddy defense throughout the game
  •  Habs blow another lead going into the third period
It will be difficult to endure a Saturday Night without Habs Hockey but at least we have a critical matchup to look forward to on Sunday at 6pm at the Bell Centre.  If Brodeur has his way, he will put one of the final nails in the coffin that is housing the playoff hopes of our beloved CH.  Here is hoping that our optimism has reason to survive well past the weekend!!!
GO HABS GO!!!

 

comments powered by Disqus