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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Game 7 on Wednesday night had all the elements of the series to-date. Momentum swings, multiple comebacks, the Habs capitalizing on the powerplay while Boston didn't on theirs. What it also had was Boston getting the breaks when it counted the most as they got the overtime winner for the 3rd time in the series to defeat the Habs 4-3, winning the series by that same total.
The game couldn't have gotten off to a worse start for Montreal as by the 5:33 mark of the 1st, they trailed 2-0 on goals from Johnny Boychuk and Mark Recchi. As was the case in Game 4 though, a timeout righted the ship as Jacques Martin used his early to get his club back on track. A few minutes later, Yannick Weber cut the lead in half with his 2nd of the series (in only his 3rd game), a powerplay tally. That was all the scoring until the 2nd.
In that middle stanza, Boston's powerplay ineptitude helped the Habs tie it up. The Bruins struggled to get the puck up the ice, turning it over in the neutral zone to Tomas Plekanec who beat Tim Thomas on a breakaway to tie it at 2. The Habs outshot the Bruins in the 2nd but were unable to get the lead.
The 3rd period was full of momentum swings. Boston got the first one as Chris Kelly (who has played a lot better since getting that black eye might I add) slipped one past a diving Carey Price to give the Bruins the lead back. For the longest time, it looked as if that was going to hold up but a late high sticking penalty to Patrice Bergeron gave Montreal one last chance. They took advantage, as P.K. Subban blasted one by Thomas to square it at 3 and send the game to overtime yet again.
Montreal had some early changes off of a couple of fortuitous bounces but were unable to capitalize. Boston, like in the previous overtimes, did on theirs. The play started with yet another player (Halpern) being thrown out of the draw, one that the Habs lost. They weren't able to clear it and a shot from Nathan Horton redirected slightly off of Halpern past Price to end the Canadiens' season. Price made 30 saves in the win while Thomas turned aside 34 shots. On the powerplay, the Habs were 2/4 while the Bruins continued their 0-for-the-series run by not scoring on either of their chances.
HW 3 Stars of the Night:
1st Star: P.K. Subban (1 goal, -1 rating, 3 shots, 25:04 TOI)
I'm not going to dwell on the negatives in this (at least not too much) so I won't comment on the final goal. Instead, I'll focus on the good and the clutch, the late PPG to send it to overtime. He has had the microscope on him all year and to come through in that situation says a lot about him still being able to keep a level head through it all.
2nd Star: Tomas Plekanec (1 goal, 1 assist, even rating, 2 hits, 6/30 faceoffs, 25:25 TOI)
Yes, he was bad on the faceoffs but aside from that, it was his best game of the postseason. The shorthanded goal was simply huge to get the Habs back in it while he was strong as usual at both ends of the rink. I don't think you can label him a clutch playoff performer by any means but he did do well enough to start to shake the choker label.
3rd Star: Carey Price (30 saves on 34 shots, 65:26 TOI, 3.66 GAA, .992 SV%)
This was one of those games where the statline doesn't do him justice. He made a lot of key saves when it was tied (or when the Habs were trying to make the late comeback). Though he didn't steal Game 7 like Halak did last year, he still played quite well in this game and in the series.
Honourable Mention: Yannick Weber (1 goal, even rating, 2 shots, 3 hits, 3 blocks, 8:45 TOI)
I wanted to put him as 3rd star but when he played as little as he did, it's hard to do so. He certainly made the most of his limited opportunities and also did so play both as a winger and a defenceman. Without trying to start the offseason discussion too early (we will have articles on that in the coming weeks and months), he has done well enough to plant the seed in the mind of GM Pierre Gauthier as to whether he can be a regular next season.
What's next? No stats from this one, so here's what's up next for HabsWorld. We will be shifting our focus now over to the Bulldogs who begin their series Thursday night against Manitoba; we'll have the series preview up in the afternoon. For those interested, only Ryan White is eligible to be sent back to Hamilton. We'll also carry on with our usual end-of-month stuff while the weekly HW Recap will continue until the Bulldogs are ousted. With the World Championships starting this week, we'll roll out the annual StatTracker as well. Even though the Habs are out, there is still plenty to cover and as always, we'll be on top of it all.
- NHL Statsheet