What can you say about a game like that? Probably the best game all season long and the definition of playoff hockey. Extremely nerve racking for Canadiens fans who watched them squander a 3-0 first period lead and another lead late in the game.
The Gerber factor definitely did matter as he did not shine on at least 2 goals and the Canadiens got that big lead they needed again early. You can almost guarantee that Gerber won’t start another game in this series. Trailing 2 games and heading out on the road somethings got to change for the Canes and the first thing will be the starting
The Canadiens were unlucky on some of the penalties called on them late in the game. Particularly Craig Rivet’s and Perezhogin’s. The Canes were embarrassing the referees all game long by throwing up their arms and skating around whining and demanding penalties. Very unprofessional. You could sense the desperation and frustration in them.
The Habs starting the 3rd period two men short allowed the tying goal and the Canes to take the lead only seconds later. It felt like the familiar story starting all over again. The Canadiens breaking down and about to fall to a better team. This might have been the most important time in the series because had the Canes erased the 3 goal lead and came back to win they would recapture all the momentum and confidence and be heading into Montreal tied 1-1.
Montreal got the crucial goal from the playoff performer Kovalev burying a skill shot up under the bar. Moments later Zednik exposed the rookie goaltender with a rather weak shot that scored and gave the Canadiens the lead again. It didn’t end there however and in Peter Laviolette’s only smart coaching move to date he pulled the goalie early and with the extra attacker the Canes tied yet again.
The Habs couldn’t seal it. In overtime the Canadiens were awarded 2 powerplays and again couldn’t find a way to bury it. With the next goal winning the game and the Canes on the powerplay this time it was almost too hard to watch. Both goalies made saves and kept their teams in it sending it to the second extra frame when Michael Ryder took a quick pass from Higgins in the slot and buried his typical quick release wrister into the back of the net.
CANADIENS WIN! 2-0 SERIES LEAD!
The bandwagon screeched to a halt as another few thousand Montrealers jumped on. New registrations on this site since the playoffs began have been up considerably.
Sheldon Souray’s status is unknown as he left the game with a ‘lower body injury’. Which would be better described as what it really was – a puck in the nuts.
Souray was bent over on the bench and almost looked like he was throwing up. Souray’s a tough player so it had to be fairly painful for him to stop. Hopefully it’ll just be that game he missed and not longer. The Canadiens defence picked up the slack for the most part but looked a little tired with everyone picking up more ice time.
Bouillon looked like the warrior he is dishing out and receiving hits without blinking. He seems fully recovered from his injury and you can tell thrives on these type of games.
So what happens now? The Canadiens are returning to Montreal with 2 games in their pocket and no doubt a wild reception at the Bell Center. If the Canes were any other team in this situation you’d almost guarantee a Canadiens series victory. The Canes showed their resilience and skill battling back against the Habs and at times looked too much for the Canadiens to handle. Although badly bruised they can still put up a fight. Remember the Canadiens last playoff victory against Boston when they started 0-2 before winning in 7. The key difference, they lost 2 on the road not at home.
Cam Ward will most likely get the start and give the Canes a level playing field to start the game. The Canadiens will have to do more of the same and take advantage of a young inexperienced goalie while getting strong play from Huet. It’s tough not to pick the Canadiens right now and if they manage the 3rd win the sweep is almost a lock. That would be the story of the year in the NHL and propel the Habs into the next round as the biggest gun in the league.