Category Archives: Brendan Gallagher

So Close And Now So Far

The Canadiens fall 3-2 in overtime when Martin St. Louis beat Dustin Tokarski, but the Montrealers absolutely made it a game, although it took two and a half periods before it clicked in.

Imagine if the Habs’ non-contributors were contributing? But when a team gets by with just a handful playing well and still takes it into overtime, it says a lot.

The Rangers aren’t that good. We’re playing without half the team.

Too many periods in these 2014 playoffs when the Canadiens have been outplayed. And yet, another game that was so close, that could’ve gone in their favour.

How close? A puck rang off the inside of the post and out again from Alex Galchenyuk with three minutes left in the third that would’ve won it.

The series only a fraction of an inch from being tied, and now it’s a 3-1 lead for New York going back to Montreal. But many good things happened in that third to give us hope, because finally the boys in general came alive and pushed.

Not everyone, but many.

Just so disheartening. Losing in overtime. And seeing guys still not showing up.

One thing’s for sure. This isn’t the same P.K. Subban we saw in the Boston series, although he tied the game in the third on a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off Brendan Gallagher.

But he doesn’t have that swagger, that dangerous flamboyance that causes fans in other buildings to boo him. The MSG folks have had no reason to let him have it.

Maybe at some point we’ll hear why PK has slowed down. Maybe he’s burned out.

Again Thomas Vanek did very little and there’s no sense dwelling on this. He is what he is.

But having said that, if you haven’t yet come close to showing up and you’re in the third round of the playoffs, it’s a serious problem. And Vanek hasn’t shown up. We need him, and that’s why it’s so maddening.

DD showed up. Gally showed up. Francis Bouillon, inserted into the lineup in place of Nathan Beaulieu, tied the game at one in the second period with a nice shot. Weaver sacrificed his body for the team.

Lots of guys showed up, although for many, not until the third. But lots haven’t yet. The clock’s ticking, and if we don’t see all hands on deck on Tuesday, with everyone giving their all, then we know for sure this team has a ways to go yet before we start thinking about the big prize.

There are no passengers on teams that go all the way. That’s not how it works. It takes blood, sweat and more sweat from every guy. The young Edmonton Oilers found that out when they lost to the New York Islanders in 1983 after the Islanders, banged, bruised, and exhausted, had just won their fourth straight title.

The Oilers learned from the Islanders that it takes supreme sacrifice, ridiculous amounts of hard work, and the willingness to do whatever it takes, even if it hurts like hell.

We’re not seeing that from a number of Canadiens. Although there’s still time. Not much though.

All we can do now is hope we see every single guy give his all from here on in. If we don’t see that, then the time definitely isn’t yet here to even think about Lord Stanley.

 

 

 

Tokarski Saves The Day

The Canadiens, with sensational goaltending from DustinTokarski and an overtime goal by Alex Galchenyuk, win game three 3-2 and make the series a series.

Not that they deserved it but whatever.

Yes they were embarrassingly outplayed for much of the evening and outshot 37-25. But when the sports news comes on, the intro will say that the Canadiens are back in it after winning in overtime. Then I can turn the TV off, smile, and carry on.

However, the boys might want to think about playing a tad better than this. If you’re a Habs fan and didn’t see the game, it might have been a good thing, except you would have missed a young goalie stand on his head.

Dustin Tokarski was simply excellent. Surprisingly excellent. He stopped pucks left and right. Mr. Price couldn’t have played better.

And although I feel for Peter Budaj, after seeing the kid hold the fort in such fashion, it’s easier now to understand why the coaches went with him, even though he had no experience.

Toker won the game for Montreal plain and simple. It was him and no one else, even though the puck went by Henny Lunny three times.

Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner but was mediocre, as was Tomas Plekanec, who fed the puck to Galchenyuk for the winner, as was Thomas Vanek, who assisted on Daniel Briere’s goal that gave the Habs a late 2-1 lead, as was P.K. Subban, who gave the puck up at the blueline that led to the Rangers’ opening goal.

They were all mediocre and they weren’t the only ones. And it was weird to see PK so ordinary.

Not their finest moments, but the team won. Surely that has to deflate the other team.

The Canadiens, thanks to Dustin Tokarski, kept the Rangers to two goals, some greasy ones got by the guy with good hair at the other end, and the series is narrowed to 2-1 instead of a nightmarish 3-0.

It could also lead to great things. The Stanley Cup Finals might have crossed the Rangers’ minds ever so slightly, and instead they lose the game and realize now that if they lose game four and the thing is all tied up, life just might really suck.

The Canadiens know they played poorly, how could they not, but realize they have a young goalie doing the job nicely with Price out. He’s given his team a huge boost, and by no means are they out of it.

The chance of being in the Finals is alive and well, all because of the young guy from Saskatchewan donning the pads.

Maybe from all of this we’ll see the Canadiens at their finest again, playing the way we know they can play, which we haven’t seen yet in this series except for a few minutes of game two.

They won this game three by the skin of their teeth. They dodged a bullet. Beautiful, except they were quite lousy while doing so.

Maybe Dustin Tokarski has turned the series around.

Random Notes:

Not everyone was terrible. Max, DD, and Gally played hard.Dale Weise has some moments. Not many but some. Brandon Prust showed passion. Markov was involved.

But two thirds of the team were less than good and it’s disturbing. Are the Rangers that strong that they made many of our guys look like they were stuck in cement? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

Series Has Only Just Begun

Okay, a few dark clouds have drifted in. When haven’t they?

A 7-2 throttling in game one. A possible Carey Price injury. A situation where a two-game series lead for the Rangers would suck much more than a 7-2 series opener.

But if Price is injured, if we find ourselves suddenly in a wretched hole, keep in mind it’s still not over. Our dream of seeing the Habs competing for the Stanley Cup isn’t done until the mature and the gentlemanly handshakes have begun.

What I’m saying is, except for the truly dominant teams over the years, which we all know Montreal isn’t quite yet but regardless, the road to the Stanley Cup has always been lined with more potholes than Montreal streets, which, if you’ve driven Montreal streets, is a lot.

Guys get injured, unknown factors and horrible surprises crop up. But championship teams, teams that scraped and clawed and came out bruised, battered and bloodied, somehow found a way to reach the promised land, and if Carey Price is hurt and Peter Budaj is forced to come in, everyone deals with it, plays even that much harder, blocks even that many more shots, chemistry and bonding boils over the top, and their names ultimately become inscribed on the Stanley Cup through blood, sweat, and tears.

Man that was a long sentence.

Teams don’t usually coast to the Stanley Cup. Some of the 1970s Habs teams might have, but not in general. Sometimes they coast to the first place in their division, and maybe through the first few rounds of the playoffs, but not all the way to the Cup. If it was like that, it wouldn’t be the most meaningful trophy in all the land.

If Price is hurt, which we still don’t know yet, the scenario we hope for is this: Budaj is forced to come in, he stands on his head, the team carries on and wins it all, and Budaj is forever after talked about by fans and historians as the the guy who, as a backup goalie, joined the fray and helped his team win it all.

How great would that be? We’ve seen Budaj perform in unreal situations this year, so why not again? It’s the best and only thing we can ask, aside from Price being okay and is good to go.

As far as the Chris Kreider’s crash into Price controversy goes, I’ve looked at the play below several times, and although you might disagree, I have this to say about it.

All season long I’ve harped about the fact that not enough Canadiens are willing to crash the net. Aside from Brendan Gallagher, it’s just not what we’ve seen from most guys on most nights. Chris Kreider was skating hard, as he should be, and in a nano second, his skate may have done some damage, which I hope wasn’t the case.

Did he have time to react differently? Not by what I saw on the video.

I know Michel Therrien isn’t happy about it, and I know Brandon Prust said it was “accidentally on purpose”. But this was a split-second situation during the world’s fastest game and I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not about to become a Chris Kreider fan. Are you kidding? I hope Alexei Emelin leaves a dent in the boards with Krieder’s body the way Larry Robinson did with Gary Dornhoefer. I hope we never have to mention his name again. I hope a slapshot removes all his teeth. I hope he turns out to be a bum and ends up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

I’m just saying I want more from the Habs like what Kreider did. Skate like the wind, blow by guys, don’t let up when you reach the crease.

It would also be just fine if Henrik Lundqvist tasted some of the medicine that was given to Price. Let the Rangers be forced to use to their backup goaltender.

All’s fair in love and war.

 

 

Murphy Would Be Proud

Murphy

This photo of Murphy was sent to me from an old friend who passed it on from a friend of his named Kay, a Habs fan who apparently reads my blog but didn’t know if she should send it or not.

No one should ever feel they shouldn’t send stuff like this to me. It’s always appreciated, and if anyone else has a picture of their pet dressed in Habs clothes, what are you waiting for?

Murphy passed away two years ago, and when I look at his picture, it makes me sad that he can’t see the terrific and exciting team on the ice now. He’d be so proud.

He was never able to watch PK come into his own and capture the Norris, or fully enjoy Carey Price, or love what Brendan Gallagher does, or see Max score 39. Or lay at Kay’s feet and watch his Habs seriously compete for all the marbles.

He came from a different generation, when the sky wasn’t the limit like it is now.

When Murphy wasn’t chasing squirrels and getting excited when his folks came home, he had to endure the Gomez years. The Kostitsyn years. The Samsonov, Laraque, Komisarek, Kaberle years. The years when even the Leafs were better.

He was a frisky young Habs fan when his team didn’t make the playoffs four out of five years in the late-’90s-early-2000s and then again in 2006-07. He endured such bleak days.

Kay might have told him there were times when he was young when the team was losing money and in disarray, and it was probably enough to drive him to drink out of the toilet more than usual and take no bullshit from the cat.

Murphy lived through trying times but he still wore the sweater. If only he could’ve held on for a few more years. He’d be so happy.

 

Habs Grab Series Lead

No comeback tonight for the Gooins. And now they’re down 2-1  in the series.

Ain’t it grand?

The Canadiens stepped it up, skated hard, forechecked and thumped and came away with a great 4-2 win on home ice. And yes, they had their lapses, but all in all were solid and scored some beauties in the process.

Beauties!

A Tomas Plekanec goal in the first period on a sensational pass from Thomas Vanek.

A PK Subban breakaway goal after he’d stepped out of the sinbin, was fed a gorgeous pass from Lars Eller, and broke in alone and beat Tuukka Rask.

A sharp pass from Daniel Briere that sprung Dale Weise who fired it through Rask.

An empty-netter from Lars Eller, also in alone.

Yes the game was tense. A late goal by the Bruins in the second frame made it 3-1, and with 2:16 left in the third they scored again to narrow it to 3-2.

But the boys held on, Eller hit the empty net, and with a fine and outstanding series lead, what more can a poor Habs fan ask?

Thursday they go at it again. We ‘re not asking for much. Just a severe tightening of the noose, that’s all.

PK was once again a force. Carey Price held the fort. Vanek, Max, Eller, Plekanec, Weise, Bournival, Bourque, Gallagher, Weaver and all the guys wearing red gave a serious display of pride, guts, and passion.

The Canadiens were on the Bruins quicker tonight than in the previous two games. They skated harder, used their speed, and took no bull from the greasers.

Dougie Hamilton and Torie Krug forgot to shoot high. Price was great, Rask wasn’t. Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin flexed muscles, Zdeno Chara and Milan Luci didn’t.

Brad Marchand continues to get away with murder.

Claude Julien will probably whine for the next day and a half.

Random Notes:

PK’s goal and assist gives him 11 points in the playoffs, good enough for second place overall behind the King’s Anze Kopitar, who has 14.

Ginette Reno got the party underway, the joint was rockin’ all evening, and for me in my living room, sometimes I sat, sometimes I stood.

Lucy’s in Russia right now, and because it’s the middle of the night there, she has no idea that the boys won huge.

Boston outshot Montreal 28-26.

 

 

 

 

Game 3 Coming Fast

There’s not a lot I can add to the Montreal Canadiens situation after  what’s being bandied about on radio, TV, the internet, morse code, and around the potbelly stove where grandpa sits.

The Canadiens almost went up two games to none over the powerhouse Boston Bruins, but settled instead for a win and a horrifying loss after blowing the lead late in game two. It was enough to drive someone to drink.

But instead of dwelling on what could have been, I’d rather talk about Rene Bourque, the Man Who Wasn’t Helping.

He is now though. For whatever reason.

I find it mind-blowing to see how Rene Bourque has played in the playoffs so far. The guy we wanted gone. The guy who looked uninterested and unmotivated and often half-asleep. Now transformed into a force to be reckoned with.

What happened? Did the thought of being bought out finally sink in? Did he have some sort of awakening while sitting on the couch at home, that maybe if he tried harder he could be a strong and incredibly key guy on the team?

Did a teammate call him out in front of others, which is what I was hoping for?

Or do the Canadiens have a terrific head doctor who made Bourque his pet project?

Whatever it is, I like it, because one can never have enough great skating, great shooting power forwards. It’s what Bourque was supposed to be in the first place when he came here in the Mike Cammalleri trade in the winter of 2012.

But as good as Bourque has been playing, and ditto for Lars Eller – another who many of us were truly disappointed in because we’d seen glimpses of greatness – we now need the DD, Max, Vanek line to stop spinning their wheels and lend a hand.

Vanek scored two the other night, but they were merely tip-ins on the power play, which is great but also one-dimensional. We need these three to dangle and pass the puck around like a pinball, like we saw when Vanek showed up in the first place when the line gelled and we were overcome with giddiness.

Vanek has 5 points in 6 games, which is decent, but his overall play is hesitant at best. DD has 3 points in 6 games and Max also has 3 in 6. All three seem invisible for long stretches, and we know absolutely that they can be much better than that.

But no one knows it better than them. The question is, can they do something about it, like Bourque and Eller somehow managed to do?

Against the Bruins, we need all hands on deck, which isn’t rocket science.

For some reason, whatever the DD line was doing in the regular season seems to be gone at this stage. They look tentative and unwilling. They seem nervous. Their passes aren’t of the pinball variety, they’re more like the kind I make.

And about others, is Brandon Prust (1 point in 6 games and often a non-factor in all aspects) playing at 90%, or 70% or 50%, and is his nagging shoulder the reason his play lacks pizzazz? Almost definitely, to answer my own question.

Should Ryan White replace him and maybe add a spark?

Should Douglas Murray replace Francis Bouillon and help calm down the Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla, Kevan Miller, Milan Lucic feistiness?

Kudos to Brendan Gallagher, who continues to be a whirling dervish. Kudos to so many, Carey Price and PK Subban especially.

The team’s in the thick of the hunt and it’s all we can ask, except for some great players to pick it up a bit.

Just need some tweaking and three more wins in the next week or so. And again, all hands on deck.

Addendum:

I just heard from two different sources, Marjo and TSN 690, that Rene Bourque has the flu and may not play in game 3. Gawd.

 

 

 

Thank You Carey!

An outstanding display from Carey Price. Brilliant from start to finish, stopping 48 of 51 shots, including a plethora of tough ones, and the Canadiens take the opener in Boston.

It was PK Subban, with his second power play goal of the game, hitting the back of the net in the second overtime to give his team a huge 4-3 win.

They were outplayed but they weren’t outscored, which is the basic rule of the game. The team that scores most, wins.

And they weren’t always outplayed, it just seemed like it. Tuukka Rask had to come up big often.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first with a blueline wrist shot from PK with the man-advantage, and the team, after weathering an early onslaught, settled down and picked it up a notch.

In the second, Rene Bourque made it 2-0 on a pass from Lars Eller, and Price was magnificent throughout, especially during a Bruins power play that was ridiculous in the fury seen around the net.

The Bruins took charge. They slammed bodies, stormed the net, kept coming, rang pucks off posts, came close far too often, kept the puck in the Canadiens end for several heart-stopping days and weeks  it seemed.

Often I couldn’t look.

Our man stood tall though, before, during, and after.  Price stole it for his team, but brilliant playoff goaltending is a time-honoured tradition, and legends are slowly carved from performances like this.

Not only did he help his team win, but he might have started the process of being in the Bruins’ heads. Maybe they’ll toss and turn all night, thinking of what might have been. Maybe they’ll think about storming the net on Saturday. Maybe they’ll start to question their ability to beat this guy.

And if they think they should be more forceful,  they’ll remind themselves that the Canadiens bulged the twine twice on the power play and they’ll have to think twice about being more physical.

Maybe they’ll blow their minds from thinking too much. Although Brad Marchand doesn’t have to worry about that.

For a hundred years, goalies have been saving the day on special nights, and on Thursday in Boston, it was Price’s turn. But he’ll need to do it again and again, although hopefully the players in front of him will decide to keep the puck in the other end more often than game one.

Another rule of the game. Keep the puck in the other end as much as possible.

The Bruins pushed hard in the third and would tie it at two, and the game became as intense as most seventh games. To win the first would be huge. Blowing a two-goal lead was already disappointing. Losing the opener would be a painful blow.

After regaining the lead on a shot by Francis Bouillon, the Bruins would tie it again with just 1:58 left in the third. A horrible turn of events. Sometimes I wonder if my old ticker can handle this sort of thing.

No scoring in the first overtime, Price continued to be sensational, and after Matt Bartkowski took a holding penalty at 4:10 of the second overtime, PK blasted it home just seven seconds later.

I’m sure Jack Edwards had lots to say about that.

And isn’t it lovely that the one player that Bruins players, fans and media consider the most despicable was the one who settled things. Has to be a hockey god thing. Thank you PK, for scoring the winner and wounding Bruins fans.

A huge game-one win. The Canadiens’ fifth straight playoff victory. Carey Price held the fort.

Random Notes:

The DD, Vanek, Max line was ineffective all evening but that should change. The Punch Line had off-nights too.

The Eller, Bourque, Gionta trio was Montreal’s best, and aside from Price and Subban’s heroics, my choice for best skater on the night for the good guys was Lars Eller. He skated well, made smart decisions, and had several fine chances. The same could be said for Rene Bourque. They picked up where they left off from the Tampa series. Many wondered if they could. And they did.

Brendan Gallagher came to play too. But many were quiet and we’re expecting a different story in game two.

Goal scoring recap – PK, Bourque, Bouillon, and PK.

Final shots on goal after four periods and four minutes – Boston 51, Montreal 33.

Next game – Saturday at 12:30 pm eastern. A lot of people hate afternoon games. I don’t mind them as much as many, but I’m not overly crazy about them either.

I suppose I’m used to early starts after living on the West Coast for so many years. For West Coasters, Saturday’s game is at 9:30 am, which truly sucks.

 

Second Round Coming Up!

At a loss for words here but I’ll give it the old college try.

Max, with 43 seconds left, sends our Montreal Canadiens into the second round and I’m numb and left exhausted. And it’s only the first round.

A sweep over the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning. Two periods of perfect hockey where the team would take a nice 3-1 lead, then a slight letdown in the third and the Lightning would tie it.

But Max, who couldn’t buy a goal for the past week or two, shoved it under Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner and all’s well in Habsland.

What a sport hockey is. Especially when the good guys give us an incredibly serious bang for the buck so to speak.

The agony and the ecstasy.

Moving on to round two.

A team playing with passion and drive.

Rene Bourque coming alive and again a supreme force. He never lived up to expectations after coming over in the Cammalleri trade. Until now. And in a big way.

Lars Eller, criticized frequently this season, especially on talk radio, coming through again and being the smooth and effective forward we’d only seen glimpses of this season.

Daniel Briere proving he’s a big time money player.

Everyone contributing, all the way down the line, with tonight’s goals from Briere, Eller, Gally, and then Max, which is a goal from each of the four lines.

And although the Vanek, DD, Max line was on the quiet side, Vanek would assist (along with P.K.) on Max’s winner. So the points from the line came anyway.

Imagine how proud papa Ray Pacioretty, sitting in the stands, must be.

The team was unreal in the first and second period, creating rush after rush, skating like the wind, checking Tampa to a standstill, clearing the net, making the right passes, doing all the right things.

I watched them play like that and I saw a real team. A team that takes a back seat to no one.

Now it’s a week’s wait. That’s fine. It’s going to take me that long to recuperate.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bolts 37-23.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Push Tampa To The Edge

Whew. That was stressful. But the boys prevailed, edge the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, take a 3-0 lead in the series, and I’ll bet the bars and restaurants in downtown Montreal were rockin’ afterwards.

Of course, more will be said about a controversial non-goal by the Lightning than the fact that the Canadiens never panicked and held the fort when Tampa picked it up a few notches in the second and third period.

Frankly, the disallowed goal was a tough judgement call, there was some interference with Carey Price, although it might have had nothing to do with the puck going in.

The bottom line for me is, the Canadiens have their fair share of calls go against them in games over the years. Every team has. It’s hockey, the game is over, the boys won, we feel good, and that’s that.

It was a barnburner for sure. From the pre-game light show that began with the Stanley Cup banners lighting up one by one, to the amazing display on the ice of past and present players and voices, of Rocket hugging the Cup, Beliveau celebrating, Lafleur charging up the ice, and guys on the present team going full-tilt.

There was the kid wearing number 9, lighting things up with the torch. And legendary Ginette Reno belting out Oh Canada.

It’s the kind of thing only Montreal can do. With Habs haters grudgingly admitting it’s done well here, although complaining about the Cup banners and Habs fans stuck in the glory days sort of thing I suppose.

Just eleven seconds in, after Madame Reno had belted out the anthem and the puck was dropped, Rene Bourque burst in and beat Anders Lindback and it was 1-0.

Pre-game goosebumps and an early goal that latecomers missed because they had one extra beer at the Peel Pub.

Bourque once again played a fine game, used his size and great skating ability, and was dangerous often. It only took him 83 games to wake up. Is that an NHL record?

Every year the playoffs produce an unsuspecting star, one we would never predict in a million years.

So far in this series it’s been Rene Bourque, the one many of us wanted out of town on the next stagecoach. He’s gone from dreadfully ineffective to hugely effective. Who knew?

The biggest problem on the night was the Canadiens inability to bulge the twine on a big four-minute power play in the first frame, although they looked good and moved the puck around well.

Looking good and moving the puck around doesn’t guarantee goals though. But it kind of bodes well for the future.

They couldn’t score on that four-minute power play, and in the second, Tampa, newly-invigorated and playing with desperation, would tie it up. And it was after that that the controversial no-goal decision was made that would have given the visitors a 2-1 lead but didn’t.

P.K. Subban then dazzled with a rush that brought him around the back of Tampa’s goal, sent the puck over to Brendan Gallagher, and it was a 2-1 Habs lead instead of the other way around.

Absolutely exciting period, edge of the seat type stuff, and the third would be too.

Tomas Plekanec would send his team into a two-goal lead but a Tampa long shot flew by a screened Carey Price, which made for a seriously nerve-wracking finish, ending with a sigh of relief for everyone except Lightning fans as the Canadiens squeeze it out 3-2, and the noose is tightened.

The vibes around Montreal today were extraordinary, even in St. Hubert. Hockey was in the air. The flags were flying. I can only imagine what it’ll be like leading up to Tuesday’s game four.

A  stranglehold on the series. Finish it off in four and practice the power play. It’s the one achilles’ heel on a team that is playing well overall. The Canadiens went 0-5 in this game, which is just about the norm nowadays.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot TB 31-29.

Max had some great chances to break out of his scoring drought, but remains snakebitten. It’s coming though. We know how it works with him. Often it’s a flukey goal that lights the fuse.

Injured Alex Galchenyuk must surely be wishing he was out there being a part of this.