123 eller detroitLars Eller scored at 1:21 of overtime to give the Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night at the Bell Centre. The win leaves the Canadiens with a two-point Atlantic Division lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning with one game remaining in their respective seasons.

The win was Carey Price’s 43rd if the season, breaking a Canadiens goaltending record co-held by Hall of Famers Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.

Tomas Plekanec tied the game with a power play goal midway through the third period after Detroit had taken a 3-2 on a shorthanded goal by Darren Helm. The other Canadiens goals were scored by Andrei Markov and Jeff Petry. Adding goals for Detroit were Tomas Tatar and Pavel Datsyuk.

Shots on goal favoured the Wings 27-26.

The three stars were Price, Datsyuk and Eller.

Adding It Up –

123 price detroitThe Difference – Carey Price made the stops he had to in order towin the game. Jimmy Howard would love to get a second chance at both the tying and winning goals which were scored on the short side by Plekanec and Eller.

Price got his star turn after the game with an on-ice post game interview that was punctuated with chants of “MVP”, “MVP”. from the 250th consecutive Bell Centre crowd.   The odds of Price taking home the Hart Trophy in late June seem to be increasing on a daily basis.

On His Back – There have been some ups and downs since the beginning of March but there has been one constant and that has been the play of Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec tied the game, added another four shots on goal and put in over 5 minutes of penalty killing time and 2:25 on the power play. Plekanec has goals in each of his last three games and six goals, 7 assists over his last 13. Nobody else comes close.

Signing In – With Pacioretty out, Brian Flynn drew back into the lineup on a fourth line with Tory Mitchell and Brandon Prust. For the first time since he arrived from Buffalo Flynn looked like he belonged. Every one of the line’s shifts was productive, especially the forechecking. Mitchell and Flynn had chemistry from Buffalo. It came together with Prust in this game.

123 petry detroitDon’t Let Him Get Away – There seemed to be a mixed opinion about the trade that brought Jeff Petry to the Canadiens from Edmonton. The negative side of the deal has been silenced by Petry’s play over the last two weeks. After failing to record a point through his first twelve games, Petry has 3 goals, 4 assists his last six games including a goal and assist in this one. He’ll be looking for a 5-million plus annual contract in July. The Canadiens need to find cap room to meet his demands.  

The Neverending Story – Even as the Canadiens fight for first place in the Atlantic Division and work through their most productive season since 1989, the team’s failure on the power play continues to cast rain on the parade. It was a wash in this game. They gave up a shorthanded goal early in the third period and it took a 5-on-3 power play goal to even the ledger. On the other side of  special teams  the penalty killing looked better than it has for six weeks even without Pacioretty. Credit the PK forward pairings of Plekanec/de la Rose; Eller/Smith-Pelly and Flynn/Mitchell.

Also Worth Mentioning – ….P.A. Parenteau continues to contribute in a serious way. All three of his shots on goal were excellent scoring chances. With Smith-Pelly on the other wing they’re not the quickest Canadiens unit but they seemed to mesh well with Desharnais in this game….P.K. Subban played almost half the game – 30:19. Andrei Markov was second at 28:58. The each blocked three shots. …….Earlier we mentioned Petry. His partner was Alexei Emelin is playing a strong supporting role to Petry’s puck moving skill. Six hits for Emelin to lead both teams. Four of those hits were in the third period with the game up for grabs. ……Only Torrey Mitchell was a winner in the faceoff circle taking 7 of 11.

Masters of their Fate – The Canadiens travel to Toronto Saturday for the final game of the season knowing that all they need to win the Atlantic Division is a single point no matter what happens between the Lightning and Boston in Tampa. The leadup question will be who will be in the Canadiens nets. Oddsmakers would make Dustin Tokarski the coach’s choice but the thought of the extra home game in the second round of the playoffs may play into Michel Therrien’s thinking.