I still had the game on television when Lars Eller scored in the third period of the Montreal Canadiens improbable 5-4 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday night. I thought it was good for Eller – who to that point was minus-4 and was being considered the goat of the game.
It was Eller’s first goal in 24 games and he barely raised his stick. He just skated back to the face off circle. They were still losing 4-2 and they still had some work to do. It was the hockey equivalent of a soccer player scoring then going in the net to retrieve the ball and put it back at the center circle.
This is where I give credit to Michel Therrien. Therrien has been hit hard for his lineup decisions and inability to make in-game adjustments before they are too late. After the line of Eller, Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher was on the ice for all four goals against he swapped Gallagher and Gionta and the results were practically immediate.
That adjustment put the Canadiens in a position to win. I, like most people, were wishing for the coach’s head when it looked like they were going to lose the game. But I’m also not blind. This move was an inspired one. It may have been out of desperation but it worked.
The most frustrating part of this team is the last four minutes of the Senators game. They showed heart, they showed their skill and they just need to play their game. Yes, there are issues with who Therrien decides to play. Yes, there are issues with the style of play. But this team has Thomas Vanek, Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Carey Price and Tomas Plekanec. You would be hard pressed to find any NHL team that wouldn’t star these guys.
We also know that Marc Bergevin has used the word character a lot. Even CHaracter has become a running joke on Twitter. Well this team showed it last night. After they got the boost of Eller’s goal, they found a way to get all the way back.
The reaction of the Canadiens after the game was won by Francis Bouillon in overtime was the type of reaction you want to see from a team that’s fighting for a playoff spot. It’s the type of game that can turn around a season.
Let’s see what kind of momentum that game has as the team takes on the Buffalo Sabres tonight.