The Canadiens returned home Sunday for the first time since going 2-5 on their road trip. The Habs played a good game, but Carey Price was not at his best. While they kept coming from behind and tying the score, the Canadiens never held the lead and a penalty in OT effectively handed the game to the Atlanta Thrashers.
Atlanta drew first blood in the game, with Rich Peverley scoring at 6:20 of the first. Peverley grabbed the puck and skated through the neutral zone unchecked, sliding the puck under Price’s pad, while P.K. Subban had taken himself out of the play to make a hit. David Desharnais (making his season debut) and Max Pacioretty had some excellent chances, but it was Tomas Plekanec who blew by two Atlanta defencemen to put the Habs on the board during a PP.
Evander Kane put Atlanta ahead early in the second when the puck squeezed by Price’s pad and the goalpost. Again, it took a PP for the Canadiens to make it 2-2. Subban slapped one from the point off a pass from Roman Hamrlik. Andrew Ladd made it 3-2 on a late second period goal off a scrum in front of Price.
It took the Canadiens till the end of the third period to tie the game. Brian Gionta scored off a James Wisnewski shot from the point with under five minutes left. There were chances at both ends, but the game went into overtime.
The Habs had secured at least a point, but P.K. Subban took a hooking penalty on an Atlanta rush and the Habs were in trouble again. They managed to kill off most of the penalty, but with 8 seconds left, Dustin Byfuglien scored the overtime winner. Jeff Halpern won the faceoff, but the puck got back to the point, and it was game over.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
First Star – Tomas Plekanec: Refusing to let Atlanta get to them, he showed the team that Pavelec could be had when he scored the Canadiens first goal of the game. He gives 110% every shift, and if his wingers played like that as well, the Habs would be scoring more and winning a lot more. He was also 18-11 in the circle.
Second Star – Brian Gionta: No quit from this guy either. Going to the net and taking the shots, a team-high total of 9 on net. Gionta’s been playing some great hockey recently.
Third Star – James Wisnewski: This man has single-handedly revived a dead Canadiens PP, and had two assists on Sunday. He is also capable of making great passes, which is pleasant surprise and definitely helps the team. He’s also solid defensively.
Max Pacioretty: Seven shots on goal, 3 hits, 2 takeaways, 16:51 time on ice. Pacioretty went to the net, had an assist and was +1. A great game for him, and lots of positives.
Scott Gomez: Five shots on goal, an assist and 14-6 on faceoffs. His ability to gain the zone at speed creates chances and momentum for the Habs.
Notes: Yannick Weber had a decent game with an assist and 20:37 of ice time … David Desharnais played 13:23, had three shots on goal was 5-1 on faceoffs. A good debut, but he did look awful small out there, with Atlanta rubbing him into the boards at every opportunity. I’m glad he got a decent chance, though it remains to be seen how this call-up turns out.
Finally, I’m pinning this loss on Price, who should have had the first two Atlanta goals, and appeared lost and foggy in the crease. He was not sharp, and in my opinion, Martin should have played Auld, or at least put him after the first or even second periods. Price was shaky and unconfident. He should not have played.
Another thing: the way Martin doesn’t react to the reffing is really starting to annoy me. He never calls them over, not even to hear an explanation of a certain call. I mean, Gill was talking to the referee at one point. Especially in OT, where you’re trying to get two points out of this match, show your players – and fans – that you care about what’s going on. Why is there no rousing of the troops, no talking, no ‘let’s go, we can win this thing’ from any of the coaching staff? In a 3-3 game, you have to remind the players they can succeed! Focus their minds on the goal! There is no emotion and no passion from him, and while I don’t care most of the time, I’m fed up and frustrated by this.
I’m also calling out Mike Cammalleri, who played 19:45 and managed only 2 shots on goal. There were some sparks of offence, but overall there was no real passion from someone we expect to do a lot better. There is definitely something going on with this guy, and I’d like management to get to the bottom of it.