As usual, the Habs got off to a tepid start as they often do in an afternoon
game on Saturday, but after Alexandre Picard got into a rare fight, the pace and
the emotion picked up. Scott Gomez gave the Habs the lead late in the 2nd
after killing off 4 straight penalties and that proved to be the winner.
Tomas Plekanec scored an empty netter late to give Montreal a 2-0 win.
The 1st period was relatively uneventful, both teams had a few scoring
changes but the play in the offensive zone was mostly played on the perimeter.
That bit didn’t change in the 2nd either. The Habs were shorthanded for
40% of the middle stanza but managed to outshoot New York 2-1 on those PK’s as
they kept the Rangers pinned to the outside. The last successful kill
seemed to spark Montreal as Gomez picked up his first goal in 11 games (first
since January 8th) with under 2 minutes left in the frame.
The Rangers didn’t go down without a fight though as they carried the play in
the 3rd period, outshooting Montreal 19-6. However, Carey Price held down
the fort, while Plekanec picked up the empty netter in the dying seconds to
close it out. Price stopped all 35 shots he faced for his 5th shutout of
the season, while Martin Biron was strong at the other end, turning aside 27 of
28 Montreal shots. Montreal was 0/2 on the powerplay, New York 0/4.
HW 3 Stars of the Afternoon:
1st Star: Carey Price (35 saves on 35 shots, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%)
Really, was there any doubt about this one? Price was stellar,
especially in the 3rd when the Habs began to break down defensively. In a
game where it was clear early on it was going to be low scoring, he stepped it
2nd Star: Scott Gomez (1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots, 2 hits,
Another easy choice as his goal proved to be the difference. He did
well to get open on that play but also hustled at both ends of the rink against
his former team. Hopefully this is a stepping stone to him getting that
2nd line going.
3rd Star: Alexandre Picard (1 assist, 7 PIMS, +1 rating, 4
blocks, 14:50 TOI)
For someone who hadn’t played in nearly a calendar month, it didn’t take too
long for the rust to wear off. He didn’t play a lot but aside from one
brutal giveaway in the slot, he was instrumental in this victory. His
shot-pass off the boards was perfectly executed and he tied for the team lead in
blocked shots despite playing the least amongst Montreal defencemen.
Honourable Mention: Jaroslav Spacek (0 points, even rating, 3
shots, 4 blocks, 19:22 TOI)
Yes, he struggled a bit in the giveaway department (3), but all in all, he
stepped up well and adequately filled James Wisniewski’s shoes. Knowing
that Picard could only handle limited minutes, a lot of extra pressure fell on
him and though he didn’t excel, he didn’t kill the team either.
Stats of the Afternoon: The Habs once again will play an
afternoon game tomorrow, their annual Super Bowl affair. Montreal has
played 19 times on Super Bowl Sunday, amassing an 11-7-1 record.
Unfortunately, they have lost their last 3; in their last 4 (and 5 of the last 6
years), the result is inverse from their Saturday game – whatever happens on
Saturday, the opposite result happens on the Sunday. Of the 4 main Habs
centres, 3 were exactly 50% on the draw – the only one who wasn’t was Plekanec
who went 5/17.