Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Andrei Markov scored two goals off of wrist shots, including the game winning goal 1:28 into overtime as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime.
It was a game that felt like a playoff game and was without a doubt the best game the Canadiens have played all season. It had everything you want from a game. It had scoring chances, great plays and great saves.
While Markov will get tons of accolades for scoring both goals in the game, it was a real coming out party for the line of Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Travis Moen. They, along with P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges were given the task to stop the Blackhawks top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. And they did a great job. They were on the ice when the Blackhawks scored the tying goal midway through the third period, but won the battle all night long, including the shift in overtime that led to the winning goal.
This is exactly why Plekanec and Gionta should not be judged on their scoring output. They do so many other things on the ice in their own end that don’t even show up in a boxscore. From Plekanec creating opportunities on the penalty kill and winning faceoffs to Gionta tying up Toews on the side of the net. This is what they do, and what made it seem so much like a playoff game. Every shift mattered. The effort was there for the entire game.
Really, though, most players wearing a red, white and blue jersey played their best games in a while in this one. Alexei Emelin layed out Kane with a couple of hits. Daniel Briere and Rene Bourque were creating scoring chances along with Lars Eller. The first goal of the game was scored with George Parros – yes – in front of Corey Crawford. You would be remiss to leave out Brandon Prust and obviously Carey Price kept the team in it with big saves when he had to.
This is the type of game that gets everybody so frustrated when the Canadiens put out efforts like the one they did Thursday in Philadelphia. People can expect more from this team because this is what they are capable of. They can take the Stanley Cup champions and play with them for 60 minutes. The Canadiens even won the possession battle (in terms of shot attempts) at even strength 36-26.
It was a hard luck loss for Chateauguay native Corey Crawford. Crawford made several really big saves, none bigger than the two stops late in the second period when his team was on the power play. Crawford stopped Prust on the first attempt and stuck out his pad when Eller came in for the rebound. He also made a save on Plekanec a few seconds before the winning goal was scored in overtime.
The Canadiens can enjoy the two points in this one and for a few days no one will be talking about the relationship between coach Michel Therrien and his players. They host the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.