The Canadiens came from behind 4-2 and 5-3 deficits, all in the third period to beat the the Bruins 6-5 in a shootout Wednesday night in Boston. A power play goal by Andrei Markov tied the game with 8.2 seconds remaining in regulation time. Brendan Gallagher then scored the game winner in the sixth round of the shootout. Michael Ryder started the Canadiens comeback with his second goal of the game in the third period’s 5th minute but Tyler Seguin promptly restored the two goal lead at 11:50. Gallagher made it 5-4 only twenty eight seconds later to set the stage for the tieing goal and then the shootout. It is the second consecutive game that the Bruins have blown a two goal third period lead to the Canadiens. The Canadiens remain in first place in the Northeast division a point ahead of Boston. The Bruins hold one game in hand.
Adding It Up –
No Legs – Despite the Canadiens playing their second game in 24 hours it was the Bruins who were bogged down early. In the first 40 seconds of the game they forced the Bruins into three turnovers. Plekanec checked the puck away from Dougie Hamilton and set up Ryder at 27 seconds and 30 seconds later Blunden won the puck and Halpern was on the doorstep for the rebound.
Bounceback – After hitting a crossbar and a post Wednesday night in the 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh, Ryder made good on his second scoring chance of the game taking a pass from Tomas Plekanec who had circled the net to make it 1-0. Ryder had six shots on goal. Four of them clear scoring chances. On his second goal Ryder took advantage of being a right shot coming off the left wing to whistle it past Tuuka Rask for the goal that narrowed the Bruins lead to 4-3 early in the third period.
So, Who’s Counting? – In case you haven’t noticed Ryder is on a tear that dates back to his last six games in Dallas. His two goal night gave him 13 points(6 goals, 7 assists) in 13 games with the Canadiens and 8 goals and and 14 assists his last 19 games overall.
Rocket Man - Once again P.K. Subban unleashed one of those laser-like slapshots, one timing an Alex Galchenyuk pass to give the Canadiens what could only be termed a fortunate 2-0 lead early in the second period. That’s ten goals for Subban in only 27 games to lead all NHL defencemen. Florida’s Brian Campbell is 2nd with seven.
Gassed – The Bruins weren’t skating very well to start the game, but they were laying the wood on the Canadiens and it started to get to the Habs midway through the first period. Over a thirty minute stretch from midway through the first period to the end of the second the Bruins outshot the Canadiens 24-5 and scored four consecutive goals to take a 4-2 lead after two periods.
The Game Plan – It was clear that 34 year old Andrei Markov was the Bruins designated target. They hit him and surgically repaired knees early and often. Having played over 24 minutes in Pittsburgh the night before, it was clear that the grinding game the Bruins unleashed on him had exhausted Markov by midway through the game. He was on the ice for six of the game’s ten goals four of them scored by the Bruins. But he had the final word when he scored the game-tying goal off Zdeno Chara’s stick with 8.2 seconds left. His night’s work was an exhausting 27:51. In the span of just over 24 hours Markov’s ice time was 52:39.
Atmosphere Change – With Carey Price left to his own devices for thirty minutes, Michel Therrien showed mercy in pulling him in favour of Peter Budaj who came into the game in what one would expect to be a mop-up role. Apparently Budaj took it more seriously. He came in riding a 1.50 GAA during a four game winning streak. With his teammates on the offense to get back in the game Budaj stopped 14 of 15 Boston shots in the third period and all six in the shootout and now he has a five game winning streak.
Can’t Be Ignored – Brendan Gallagher remains in the middle of the hunt for the Calder Trophy, especially since the game of Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau’s has stalled. Gallagher was right in front of the net to get a terrific pass from Pacioretty and guide a loose puck into the net only 28 seconds after Tyler Seguin’s goal to make it 5-3 appeared at the time to have been the clinching goal. And we can’t forget the cool way he scored that game winning goal in the shootout. Gallagher ranks second rookie goals to Huberdeau with ten and third in points with 19.
The Stats Leaders – The Plekanec line with seven points; Ryder-two goals and six shots, Plekanec with 3 assists, Brian Gionta with 2; Subban’s ice time was 30:39 and he was plus-3. Travis Moen, 4 hits; Francis Bouillon 5 blocked shots.
What It All Means – Once again the Canadiens demonstrated that they are a team that will just keep coming, no matter how deep the hole they’ve dug for themselves. The Bruins have had unrelenting pressure on the Canadiens but, despite a heavy games-in-hand advantage, have never been able to get an outright lead over them in the Northeast Division since February 19th.
The Canadiens are home to face the Rangers Saturday night. Fifteen games to go.