James Wisniewski’s second goal of the game at 3:41 of overtime gave the Canadiens a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers in the final game of their seven game road trip. The Canadiens finished the trip with a 2-5 record. It was only their third win the last 11 games. Wisniewski assisted on the other goal which was scored by Brian Gionta. Scott Gomez picked up two more assists in the game. The Canadiens were down 2-0 early in the second period but roared back, outshooting the Panthers 36-11 from that point on.
Summing It Up – Perhaps it was the shock of finding themselve down 2-0 that woke the Canadiens up. The last forty minutes of the game was the best the team has played since the early part of December. We’re still looking from production from the Plekanec line, but Gomez has really found his way since Pacioretty arrived on the scene. The Canadiens decided over the last 24 hours that Tom Pyatt had a greater upside for the team than Maxim Lapierre and they traded Lapierre to Anaheim. Outside of the stars, Wisniewski and Gomez, a good effort from Hal Gill especially. Alex Auld wasn’t overworked and certainly could not be faulted on the two goals. We can only hope what we saw in the final forty minutes will carry over into the new year.
How It Went
The First Period
Auld Gets the Start – Auld making his fourth appearance and third start of the season. He finished the game in Tampa last night. His record 1-2 with a 1.93GAA and a .942 save %.
The Penalty Problem – It took only 3:38 for a member of the Canadiens to find his way to the penalty box. Tomas Plekanec for tripping. In their three previous games the Canadiens were whistled for 22 minor penalties.
All Hail the Penalty Killers- The Canadiens have the best road penalty killing record in the NHL and they successfully killed off the Plekanec one, no doubt abetted by the Panthers power play which is the worst in the NHL.
Close to the Vest- Neither team prepared to give up the first goal. Midway through the period a total of eight shots, five by the Canadiens.
The First Scoring Chance – At 13:35 Mathieu Darche working the give-and-go with Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot returned it off the skate of Darche and Tomas Vokoun was forced to make a big save.
More Penalties – The Canadiens were shorthanded for most of the ifinal 4 ½ minutes of the period. First Subban for holding at 15:32 and then ten seconds after he came out of the box, Auld was called for delay of game after he came out of his crease to cover the puck with Dvorak bearing down on him. Canadiens killed off both of them. End of the first period – 0-0. Shots on goal 9-6 in the Canadiens favour.
The Second Period
Snake-Bitten- 28 seconds into the period and the Canadiens were in a hole again. Stephen Weiss tipping it in on Alex Auld.
It Got Worse – A minute and a half later Kulikov from the line. His shot hit the skate of Jeff Halpern who was trying to block it in the high slot. It skittered past Auld and the Canadiens were down 2-0 2:13 into the period. At that point the Panthers were outshooting the Canadiens 5-3.
Getting Mad – Or simply embarassed. The Canadiens tried to get their game back together with some success and at 9:15 Radek Dvorak was called for holding.
The New Guy Comes Through- On the power play James Wisniewski, who had a six game point streak ended with his first game with the Canadiens in Tampa, drove Roman Hamrlik’s pass through the traffic to make it 2-1. Wisniewski’s first goal as a Canadien at 10:59. Scott Gomez got the second assist.
Not Smart- Mike Santorelli had something to say to referee Rob Martel on the face-off after the goal. Two minutes-unsportsmanlike conduct.
Back on the Power Play – On the first shift Mathieu Darche had two excellent chances and then it was the Gomez line on the ice again. Wisniewski got it in for Gomez who had a shot, but elected to pass across the goalmouth for Gionta. Tied at 2-2 on back to back power play goals.
More Penalties – First Subban for interference at 15:59 and then Spacek for holding a stick at 17:16. The Canadiens killed them both off, including 33 seconds of 5-on-3. End of the Second Period – 2-2 tie. Canadiens outshot the Panthers 21-10 in the period including 18-5 from the point where Florida made it 2-0.
The Third Period
Vokoun! The Canadiens played their best period in the last three weeks and came away with nothing. Lars Eller had a terrific chance in the third minute. Late in the period Scott Gomez split the defense on a rush and dished it to Pacioretty. Vokoun stopped him. The Gomez line kept the pressure on the whole shift and perhaps fired by that, the next shift, Pouliot/Eller and Darche were also a handful.
Underworked – The Panthers had only 4 shots on goal in the third. The only scoring chance at 7:35 when Auld had to get his pad out to stop Weiss cutting across the goalmouth. End of regulation still 2-2. Shots on goal in the third 12-4.
Winning It – James Wisniewski. At 3:41 of the overtime period on the Canadiens third shot of extra time. From the blueline. His second goal of the game. Cammalleri and Plekanec assisting. Final score 3-2 Montreal in Overtime. Shots on goal in the overtime 2-0.
The Goalscorers – Montreal – Wisniewski (4th) PPG (Hamrlik-Gomez); Gionta (13th) (Gomez-Wisniewski); Wisniewski (5th) (Cammalleri-Plekanec) Florida – Weiss (11th) (Higgins-Wideman); Kulikov (Santorelli-Booth)
Shots on Goal – Montreal 5-21-16-2 = 48 Florida 6-10-6-0 = 22
The Three Stars – First – James Wisniewski (2 goals 1 assist) Second – Tomas Vokoun (Stopped 45 of 48 shots) Third – Scott Gomez (2 assists)