Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Game 80: Canadiens 2, Blackhawks 3 (OT)

A discomfiting 'mission accomplished', I guess...  The Canadiens eke out a point without Carey in nets, and without two of their Top 4 defencemen, Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin having been left in Montréal to rest up for the playoffs.  So a 3-2 overtime loss, one point gathered, 98 in the bank, moral victory right?

It doesn't feel that way though.  For much of the third period, the Canadiens led and seemed poised to beat last season's Stanley Cup champs in their rink, a nice confidence boost for everyone.  But I guess they're the champs for a reason.  A late equalizer by Marian Hossa from Patrick Sharp with their net empty tied up the game in the last minute.  Then a flubbed shot from Patrick Sharp that shouldn't have gone in, and the Canadiens slinked off with their loser point a bitter pill to swallow.

Peter Budaj had done the job most of the night, and he'll have nightmares about this overtime goal, a weak wrister into his pads that somehow deflected up and to his right, but sloooooooowly, so that he had time to spot it over his shoulder as it was going in, and to lunge at it with his stick.  Upon replay, I wasn't sure if it wasn't going to miss the net, until he bunted it in.  Peter does surprisingly good work sometimes, but then he brings us back to reality, like last spring in the playoffs, or on the West Coast trip when Carey was injured.  He reminds us that this is who he is.  A backup.  A #2 goalie, valuable for the role he plays, but not able to assume the starring role.

Some of the Canadiens depth, which we were getting ready to take for granted again with Dale Weise and Josh Gorges returning, will be tested, since Alex Galchenyuk hurt his right leg and left the arena on crutches.  We saw Francis Bouillon and Ryan White take shots on their hand, and manage to finish the game, but it will be interesting to see if they don't have to take time off to heal also.

Once we've shaken off the loss though, the takeaway is that we can skate and compete with teams like the Hawks and the Red Wings.  With the debacle of last spring fresh in my mind, I'm still leery of a series where the goons run wild and free, but against Tampa or Detroit, I don't feel fear.  Or envy.

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