And now we wait.
We wait to see how Lars Eller is after being being leveled by Eric Gryba. We wait until Friday night to see if the Canadiens can come out of this with a split before moving up the highway to Ottawa. We wait to see if Carey Price can step it up and be the goaltender he needs to be, as Craig Anderson was at the other end.
And we wait for guys in slumps to snap out of it and start helping out before it’s too late.
Anderson was peppered with 50 Montreal shots on this night, including 27 in the second period alone, and in the end, he and his Ottawa Senators withstood the onslaught, came from behind in the final frame, and won the thing 4-2.
What a sick feeling when enemy goals go in during playoff action. It cuts like a knife. This is why I need a new sport. I’ve looked at cricket but I can’t figure it out. And I sure miss the Expos.
And although it was a first-game home team loss, it was also tremendously exciting, one that featured serious thrills and spills, and overall, the Habs held the edge in play. But there was just one slight difference. The Ottawa guy wearing the pads stood on his head and played like Roger Crozier against the Habs in ’65, while the guy at the other end, who was far less busy, didn’t stand on his head and there will be no mention of Price’s performance on this night when great playoff magic is discussed in future years.
I’m not necessarily putting the blame on Price. I thought he was decent. All I’m saying is, he wasn’t as good as Anderson. And we need him to be.
In the first period, Ottawa jumped ahead 1-0, although Montreal was the better team throughout, and it was a fine time indeed when, in the second period, Rene Bourque tied it on a backhand that would’ve made the Rocket proud.
But just seconds later, Lars Eller took an obscene suicide pass from Raphael Diaz, was clocked at open ice by the much bigger Eric Gyrba, and it appeared that he might have broken his nose, maybe as he crashed down to the ice. Whatever the true outcome will be, the blood was flowing, the doc and stretcher were out there, and there can by no worse feeling than seeing someone in serious trouble, with the hushed crowd, the concerned players, and the rest of us watching from a distance and keeping our fingers crossed that it’s not serious..
It’s bad enough when something bad happens to any hockey player, but when it’s a Montreal Canadien, there’s a bigger bite to it. He’s one of our guys, an important piece of the puzzle, one of our best players. We follow him every game and it’s like we know him. Get well soon, Lars. We’re pulling for you.
What a night for emotions, because less than a minute later during the five minute major to Gryba, Brendan Gallagher converted a Tomas Plekanec pass in front of the net and suddenly it was 2-1 Habs. This was the time, this second period, when the boys needed to rack up the score with the five- minute man-advantage. Make it 3-1. Hopefully 4-1.
But they didn’t. They couldn’t tighten the noose. And the tide would eventually turn.
The Canadiens peppered Anderson, not only during the major but throughout the period, including a 5 on 3 power play,, but they couldn’t bury these Senators. They couldn’t get one more goal, and in the third, Ottawa tied it, went ahead, and ultimately scored the insurance marker.
The depression shouldn’t last long I hope, but for now, I really wish the Expos were playing to take my mind off it for awhile. How I wanted that first game and be off to the races. Now the pressure is on for a serious rebound in game two. They can’t let Anderson get into their heads, which could happen. If he stones them again tomorrow, and then it’s off to Ottawa for the next two, I might decide to hunt for some good, relaxing opium.
P.K. Subban was unreal on this night. He did it all, at both ends, and his thunderous bodycheck on Chris Neil was a thing of beauty. P.K. was Montreal’s best player, and showed more pizzazz than his counterpart Erik Karlsson, even though the Swedish dandy had a goal and an assist.
I also thought Brandon Prust and Rene Bourque played important roles in this game. Prust added some good old-fashioned jam, and Bourque could have had at least three goals if Anderson was more human. Max Pacioretty also enjoyed several good chances, and I know it’s easy to say, but Max has to start scoring more.
Michael Ryder was invisible.
Total shots on goal – Montreal 50, Ottawa 31. A real playoff barn burner. A barn burning bummer.
Right away, Friday night, they go again. A split is now the new plan.