I’m not going to mince words here. What went wrong in Montreal’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres? It was Ryan O’Bryne’s penalty with three minutes to go in the game with the Habs winning 2-0 and Carey Price working on a huge shutout that went wrong. For me, the blame goes to O’Byrne.
When a player is an NHL’er and his team is on the bubble to make the playoffs and they’re playing in probably the biggest game of the year and they’ve almost got it in the bag, you stay out of the penalty box. Plain and simple. Stay out of the box. That’s the strategy and it’s not complicated.
Is Carey Price pissed off? Are several million Habs fans upset? Is this a setback to the team’s chances? Yes, yes, and yes. How nice would it have been to see Price earn a shutout tonight? He hadn’t played in a month, Jaroslav Halak has been playing well, and this was a big night for young Price. But it went from beautiful to bust, all in two minutes. Price seemed in a hurry to get to the dressing room when it was over and I don’t blame him. He deserved better. And the team has managed just two points in their last three games, at a time when they’re supposed to be doing the opposite.
It was Montreal’s game to be had. The team was playing a solid road game, nothing fancy, just winning faceoffs and stifling whatever Buffalo had to offer. Andrei Kostitsyn had put the team in front with two big goals, and in hindsight now, would a hat trick ever have been the answer. Two wasn’t enough on this night.
Dominic Moore played an important role, working hard, winning draws. Marc-Andre Bergeron was a breath of fresh air. Mike Cammalleri was back.
Blah, blah, blah.
Then O’Byrne took his penalty, the Sabres pulled Ryan Miller and popped one with 1:59 left in the game, and again with Miller at the bench, tied it with 48 seconds left. Then it was won in the shootout for the hometeam. I need one of those sponge bricks like my dad used to have, so I could throw it at my television.
All because Ryan O’Byrne took a penalty with three minutes left. And I don’t care if it was a bad penalty, or good, or borderline, or unfair. He took, it gave the dead Sabres life, the Habs ended up losing, and the season is just that much closer to going down the drain.
Montreal’s just lucky Atlanta’s still a big five points back in ninth spot. But that gap could be closed quickly.
Florida in Montreal Thursday night. I’ve nothing to add to this.