A two-goal lead squandered. A power play that went one for five. And a shootout loss to the visiting Buffalo Sabres to cap the whole thing off.
Such an important game, blown in the third period after the Habs had made it a nice 2-0 game with goals by Erik Cole on the power play (yes, you read it right – on the power play), and then Montreal’s most consistent player from the start of the year, Max Pacioretty, with his 7th of the season.
But in the third the tide was turned. Just 53 seconds in, Buffalo narrowed it to one. And after the Habs failed to capitalize on another power play, the Sabres tied it up.
Just like that, we knew this might not have a happy ending.
With all the buzz in the past 24 hours concerning Milan Lucic taking out the Sabres’ Ryan Miller, it was quite something to see Erik Cole come in contact with Miller’s replacement, Jhonas Enroth in overtime. Poor timing indeed. Not only was a penalty going to be called for sure on this, but it put the Habs in penalty trouble when they least needed it.
Cole, though, played a terrific game, and he came close often. It’s hard to believe that through preseason and well into the regular season, Jacques Martin kept Cole to minimal minutes, with very little power play ice time. How could Martin not recognize at that time the talent level of this guy?
But regardless of how well Cole did, he still took an extremely ill-timed penalty, and his team was lucky to get out of the period still alive.
My wife mentioned that it must not be easy to score in a shootout, and I told her that even Wayne Gretzky had problems with this aspect of his game. And not only that, I added, but Carey Price, as good as he is, seems to have trouble stopping them. The Sabres then managed to score on both tries in the shootout, Max Pacioretty found the back of the net for the Habs, but Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta didn’t, and it became a depressing 3-2 win for the Sabres.
Lars Eller, even though he’s played fairly well so far this year, has scored only once, with 3 assists, and it’s about time he started helping the team with some points, don’t you think?
Hal Gill was out with the flu, Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn didn’t dress, and now Jaraoslav Spacek is hurt and probably won’t play on Wednesday against Carolina. It’s gotten to point of almost laughable, in a sick and distorted sort of way. They can’t score and they can’t stay healthy. What’s a Habs fan to do?
Afterward, Jacques Martin hauled out the tried and true big-time sports cliché – “The best defence is offence.” But Jacques, what about Buffalo outshooting Montreal 10-4 in the third period to even the score?
I think he just wanted to say it because it sounded good.
Total shots on goal – 32-27 in favour of Buffalo.
Oh geez, I almost forgot. Scott Gomez has an assist this year!