Edmonton and Montreal are certainly not known for their scoring prowess, both ranking in the bottom echelons of the league in terms of goals. However, the teams combined for 8 goals in what was an entertaining and
disheveled affair. The netminding was not brilliant, as both stoppers seemed to fight the puck. Jaroslav Halak allowed some dubious goals and did nothing to settle the everlasting goaltending debate. As for Devan Dubnyk, it is perplexing as to why he got the start, considering his .866 save percentage this year and the fact that Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers had the opportunity to play in front of family and friends.
The game started off at a torrid pace, seeing 4 goals in the first 10 minutes. Tomas Plekanec got the ball rolling just over a minute in, scoring on a breakaway off a nice pass from Andrei Kostitsyn. With the early marker the Habs perhaps thought it would be easy sailing, but the Oilers responded quickly with two goals. First, Robert Nilsson scored with a perfect shot in the top left corner. Then, Sam Gagner converted on the powerplay as he caught Halak cheating to his right and shot the puck high. Those two goals seemed to wake the Canadiens and Brian Gionta rapidly tied things up, tipping in an Andrei Markov shot. For the rest of the opening frame, Montreal managed to control the play inside the Edmonton zone but were largely nonchalant on the defensive end.
In the second period, Montreal tightened up their defensive game considerably, allowing Edmonton to obtain only 5 shots, and the better coverage led to many good chances off the rush. However, at times, especially on the powerplay, it felt like the Canadiens were looking for the perfect play and refused to take shots when they had the opportunity. Travis Moen kept things simple though and scored off a rebound after he crashed the net along with Sergei Kostitsyn and Dominic Moore.
The final frame was almost as crazy as the first, as the Oilers scored barely 30 seconds in when Andrew Cogliano banked in a puck that Halak failed to cover. A few minutes afterwards, the Canadiens enjoyed a prolonged 5-on-3 advantage, but failed to capitalize and missed many shots. However, Sergei Kostitsyn would give the Canadiens a lead soon thereafter, as he made a nice deke to get in front of Dubnyk and scored. Jaroslav Halak’s difficult evening continued and he gave a gift to Shawn Horcoff, who shot from before the blueline and tied the game once again. That goal would allow the contest to head into overtime as both teams failed to score in the rest of the period.
Montreal started the extra period with a man-advantage but once more failed to capitalize. Kerry Fraser and Dean Morton were decidedly feeling generous and afforded the Habs another man advantage in overtime. This final powerplay was considerably shortened since Tomas Plekanec was called for a slash against Shawn Horcoff, who was streaking in on a breakaway. At the end of the night, the Habs powerplay struggled massively, going 0 for 7, and the contest went to the shootout. Both teams were unable to score on their first four opportunities, but Andrei Kostitsyn finally broke the deadlock and allowed the Canadiens to collect an important two points.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1. Sergei Kostitsyn Kostitsyn was Montreal’s best offensive forward and created many chances for himself and his linemates. More importantly, he went to the net with conviction and seemed involved in all facets of the game. His deke on the fourth goal was splendid.
Statline: 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, +2, 1 hit, 13:41 TOI
2. Travis Moen After spending 33 games without a goal, Moen broke out of his prolonged slump and scored his 8th goal of the year. What was even more refreshing than seeing him score was seeing him play a strong, physical contest. He got his nose dirty all night and was strong along the boards
Statline: 1 goal, 2 shots, +2, 3 hits, 12:01 TOI
3. Andrei Kostitsyn Kostitsyn was not perfect, but he certainly played one of his best games since the break. He collected an assist and procured the win for Montreal in the shootout. He also contributed physically and was, oh my goodness, even caught backchecking.
Statline: 1 assist, 1 SOG, 3 shots, 3 hits, 19:02 TOI
Honourable mention – Ryan O’Byrne O’Byrne had a quiet evening. Very quiet. And that is a good thing. He was strong in his own end, kept his game simple, did not commit any turnovers and managed to counterbalance Markov’s sometimes overly ambitious plays.
Statline: +2, 1 blocked shot, 4 hits, 16:17 TOI