Josh Gorges Celebrates Overtime Winner

Nobody was playing Tampa Bay  1-3-1 hockey on this night.  As much as crowds might love it, coaches hate games with this kind of flow.  Jacques Martin says his team’s goal each night is to keep opposition ‘chances’ down to around twelve.  Phoenix had 21.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is the Canadiens had 24.  That’s a total of 45.   In the end it produced a terrific goaltender battle between Carey Price, the game’s first star and Mike Smith, who was second star (at least in the voting of this website).

The Overtime – Twenty-six seconds into  overtime Martin Hanzal drilled Josh Gorges with a heavy check in the Canadiens end.  Seconds later Gorges headed for the bench with Subban to be replaced by Yannick Weber and Jaroslav Spacek.  At 1:09 Weber came close to ending the game with a blast off the cross bar.  Gorges returned to the ice at 1:23 for a faceoff in the Phoenix end.  Lars Eller lost the faceoff  to Cal O’Reilly but was able to force Mikkel Ekman-Larsson to cough up the puck to Gorges who had room to move up and drive a forty foot slap shot past Mike Smith.  Unassisted goal.  Game over.  First goal in a year for Gorges.

Give and Take – The game was all ebb and flow.  The Canadiens were back on their heels the first five minutes allowing Mikkal Boedeker to give Phoenix a 1-0 lead.  Midway through the opening period the Canadiens took over and eventually outshot the Canadiens 17-7.  At one point, the Coyotes failed to get a shot for over twelve minutes.  The game turned again in final thirteen minutes of the second period  along with much of the third period but Price held firm and gave the Canadiens the chance to win in overtime.
Welcome Back – Brian Gionta’s game has been all uphill since the beginning of the season, problems caused, we’re told, by a series of minor injuries.   The last three or four games his game has been rounding into form and on this night we saw the Gionta of old.    A goal and assist, five shots on goal and plus-2.
What’s With This?    – Hal Gill was his usual steady self behind his blue line, but three shots on goal?  And carrying the puck deep into the Phoenix end?   Gill had more shots in the game than  Subban, which I’m sure Gill will not allow P.K. to forget over the next day or so.
Shutdown  – These days Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban are being asked to play against the opposition’s top line, on this night Hanzal, Whitney and Vrbata.  Subban had his offensive moments in the game, but first priority was taking care of business in his own end.  The Phoenix top line was kept off the scoresheet while Subban was on the ice for all three Canadiens goals.  He also took eight shots, two of them finding the net.  Gorges was plus-2 with, of course, the goal.  Combined they blocked four shots (two apiece) .
Oh, No!! Not Again?   At 13:23 of the first period, on his seventh shift of the game, Tomas Plekanec was pushed awkwardly into the boards by the Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson.  He stayed on the ice a full two minutes before heading for the dressing room.  Plekanec missed the rest of the period but returned early in the second to log twenty more shifts without any noticeable decrease in the level of his game.
The Comeback – Plekanec was very much involved in the two Canadiens goals in regulation time.  His forecheck led to the Brian Gionta goal that tied the game at one and he started the slick three way play in which Gionta set up the trailer Travis Moen to make it 2-1.
The Catalyst     When Tomas Plekanec came back from his first period visit to the clinic, he had a new leftwinger.  Travis Moen replaced Max Pacioretty and lit a fire.  Together they took eight shots on goal in the second and third periods and were on the ice for both goals.  Moen scored his 5th goal of the season in his 15th game.  Last year in 79 games he scored six.  Pacioretty moved to the Desharnais/Cole line after Plekanec was hurt and stayed their the rest of the game, recording five shots.
Always the Main Man  –  Carey Price allowed the Canadiens to win the game in the second period when, with the score 1-1, the Coyotes had six solid scoring chances in a ten minute stretch including three  opportunites by fourth liner Taylor Pyatt and two by Raffi Torres.  It set the stage for the Travis Moen goal that gave them the 2-1 lead.
Getting His Chance – Aaron Palushaj was in the lineup because of injuries to Kostitsyn and Cammalleri.  In his four previous games he averaged around six minutes of ice time.  On this, his third recall from Hamilton Jacques Martin gave him nineteen shifts and 13:22 ice time, mostly with Lars Eller and Mathieu Darche.  Nothing too remarkable, but no damage done either.  Give him a passing mark.
From the Event Summary   – Shots on Goal – Brian Gionta, Max Pacioretty 5 shots on goal; Erik Cole 4.  Hits – Erik Cole – 5, Alexei Emelin, Travis Moen 4.  Blocked Shots – Max Pacioretty-3.  Faceoffs Won/Lost – David Desharnais 13/5 (72%)

Moving On  The Canadiens start a stretch of nine games in fifteen night s in Nashville Saturday night.   A win against the Predators would once again bring them up to .500 for their season.  They haven’t been over .500 this season.    For what it’s worth, the Canadiens have won five of their last seven games.