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"I hate Plekanec. I can't stand him."
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- If the cases get to arbitration, it will be Montreal's decision as to whether or not the arbitrator will award one or two year deals to Lars Eller and P.K. Subban.
The talk before Saturday's Game 5 in Boston was that after a high scoring affair, it was going to be a goaltending duel. It proved to be exactly that but unfortunately, it was in Boston's favour as the Bruins beat the Habs for the 3rd straight game by a 2-1 score in double overtime. This puts Montreal on the brink of elimination as the Bruins now lead the series 3-2.
The first period was full of high quality offensive chances but both Carey Price and Tim Thomas were at the best of their respective games, keeping it scoreless through the frame for the first time in the series. In the second, both teams tightened up defensively, allowing fewer shots and significantly fewer chances. The scoring, however, remained the same as there was no score heading into the third.
In that stanza, Brad Marchand shook off Tomas Plekanec to get open in the slot and converted on a broken play (that involved a broken stick and a deflection off a skate) to open the scoring. For a little while, it appeared as if that would be all that the Bruins needed as Thomas made some key saves after to keep the Habs at bay. But this time, Montreal gave Boston a taste of their own medicine (a tying goal late in the 3rd) as Jeff Halpern picked up his first playoff goal since 2007 to send the game to overtime for the second straight game.
In the first extra frame, the play was tentative for the most part but both teams had notable scoring chances. Boston had the first off what was a seemingly harmless dump in as Price fumbled it and had to quickly fall on the puck, losing his mask in the process. For the Habs, a seemingly sure empty netter was foiled (for the second time in the game) as Mike Cammalleri banked one off of Patrice Bergeron and then Zdeno Chara, just missing the yawning cage. The Bruins had the lone powerplay of the period but their best chance came just afterwards on a partial breakaway. That too was stopped, leading to a second overtime.
In the final OT, the Habs had the best early scoring chance as Brian Gionta took the perfect feed from Travis Moen on a 2-on-1 but Thomas was there for the save. Shortly thereafter, Nathan Horton tapped one home to give Boston the win and the series lead. Price made 49 saves (a career playoff high) in the loss while Thomas stopped 43 shots (also a career high) in the victory. Both teams were scoreless with the man advantage as the Canadiens were 0/2 while the Bruins were 0/3.
HW 3 Stars of the Night:
1st Star: Carey Price (49 saves on 51 shots, .961 SV%, 1.35 GAA)
Price was stellar in this game, no question about it. He made more than enough key and timely saves to give the Habs a chance to win, particularly in overtime. If he can have a performance even similar to this one, Montreal should have a good chance to win in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
2nd Star: Jeff Halpern (1 goal, +1 rating, 3 shots, 11/15 faceoffs, 23:16 TOI)
Towards the end of Game 4, he started getting a lot more ice time and that trend continued in this one. He won several key defensive zone faceoffs (it was just nice to see him taking some draws) and scored the crucial tying goal late in the 3rd. This was one of his best games as a Hab, he picked quite the time to have it too.
3rd Star: Lars Eller (1 assist, +1 rating, 3 shots, 6 hits, 6/12 faceoffs, 21:43 TOI)
Eller was dominant at times and had several scoring chances. What impressed me the most though was his strong two-way play and his physical presence, as his 6 hits was tied for the second most in the game for either time (just behind Andrei Kostitsyn).
Honourable Mention: David Desharnais (0 points, 2 PIMS, 4 shots, 1/2 faceoffs, 15:45 TOI)
I give him the nod due to his play in the first overtime period. When he was bumped up to play alongside Gomez and Gionta, good things happened as that line started to take over. Unfortunately, he was banged up in that overtime and although he took a shift late in that period, he was unable to play in the second overtime.
Stats of the Night: You can't go through a double OT game without looking at some of the ice time stats. The leader for either team was P.K. Subban who played 40:38. Of the forwards, Mike Cammalleri led both sides with 33:35. This OT matchup marked the 47th time in playoff history that these two teams have met, an NHL record.
- NHL Statsheet