It took a shootout, but the Canadiens edge Tampa 3-2 in a great game, and in my opinion, the bleu, blance et rouge played far better than they did against Washington two nights ago.
This was a night of fast skating, scoring chances from both sides, stellar goaltending from Carey Price and his counterpart Dwayne Roloson, and finally, after a see-saw affair, newcomer Nigel Dawes and then Mike Cammalleri solved Roloson in the shootout to cap off a night when we see once again that regardless of injuries and lack of scorers in the big picture, this team is for real.
Hamilton call-ups Dawes and Aaron Palushaj looked just fine in their Montreal debut, and Palushaj especially had several great chances to score. Seeing these guys step in and do the job when players go down, like Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern, is another fine example of the Canadiens surprising depth, and the team just keeps rolling along.
Is it smoke and mirrors? Is Jacque Martin a coaching genius? Is it Kirk Muller and Perry Pearn? Are the players better than so many think? How can this no-name team, which is far too small, with problems scoring, with three regular defenceman sidelined and three forwards also in civvies, continue to be one of the best teams in the east?
I think the naysayers owe a retraction.
I’m very proud of Montreal.
Vincent Lecavalier got kicked out of the game in the first period for trying to chop PK Subban in half with his stick.
Andrei Kostitsyn finished off a nice David Desharnais pass in the first, and in the second, Brian Gionta scored a beautiful shorthanded goal when he skated in alone on a breakaway.
Scott Gomez drove a puck into Roloson’s upper neck or lower face mask to come close to notching a big one, (and almost putting Roloson’s lights out in the process). But the goalie was just fine, and four inches to the left or right and Gomez would have had his eighth goal of the season. That’s eight.
Gionta’s goal was his 25th which is a fine total. Better than eight.
Next up – tonight (Friday) when the boys are in Manhattan to tackle the Rangers.
Shots on goal – 37-29 Tampa.