A fine 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and although the light at the end of the tunnel is still a ways off, there’s new life in Habsland it seems.
Max Pacioretty finally woke up after far too long a slumber, the Kosteller boys, Kostitsyn and Eller, played like all-stars for the second night in a row, and Brian Gionta, fresh from ten games on the shelf, came up with several great chances along the way. The team played with zip, although it took them a period to get going, and when they play this way it’s a far cry from….you know, that time we want to forget.
Tampa scored the only goal in the first period, but in the second, Michael Blunden, with his first of the year, tied it, and things took off from there. The team woke up, the fans came to life, and just after Carey Price robbed Martin St. Louis, who usually has a stellar night when he comes to Montreal, PK Subban sent Pacioretty in alone with a long heads-up pass, Max fired it home, and the boys found themselves in the lead.
It was a beautiful sequence of events. Blunden gets his first, Price comes up huge, PK sends Max in, and all they had to do after that was hold the lead for a period and a half, something they haven’t been able to do all that often. But they did. And not only did they hold the lead, but they didn’t sit back. Is this what separates Randy Cunneyworth from Jacques Martin?
Andrei Kostitsym was a magician on this night, and in one instance almost duplicated his swoops and swerves that set up Lars Eller for his third goal against Winnipeg last Wednesday. If Kostitsyn and Eller can continue this chemistry and puck-control, the team will win those 60% of remaining games it needs to make the playoffs. Kostitsyn seems like he’s decided it’s time to strut his stuff, and no one on the team can handle the puck the way Eller can.
Brian Gionta grazed the post on a breakaway, which would have caused us to breathe easier, but Eric Cole shoved one home with 16 seconds left after David Desharnais had done terrific work to get the puck near the goal line, and finally we got to exhale. Good thing. I was turning blue.
The Eller, Kostitsyn, Moen line oozes more chemistry than a North Korean nuclear plant.
Alexei Emelin crashed the enemy five or six times, including a fine hit on Martin St. Louis. Opposing players are going to have to learn the hard way to keep their heads up around our guy. Hopefully they’ll never learn.
Shots on goal - Habs 29, Lightning 24.
From time to time during commercial breaks I switched over to the Leafs-Wings game, and two things stand out. Our game was way faster, and the Bell Centre cameras are much higher than the ones at the Air Canada Centre. I’ve been whining about the high cameras ever since the place opened, and about a decade ago I sent a letter to the Canadiens complaining about this. I never heard back, and the cameras are still high.
Next up - Tuesday, when the St. Louis Blues pay a visit. C’mon boys, have a nice rest, enjoy the home cooking, nurse your wounds, and then make it three in a row.