MONTREAL, CANADA - JANUARY 2: Ondrej Pavelec(notes) #31 of the Atlanta Thrashers stops the puck in front of Max Pacioretty(notes) #67 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on January 2, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Thrashers defeated the Canadiens 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The Canadiens 50 shots on goal was a season high, eclipsing their previous mark that they had set on New Year's Eve against the Florida Panthers.
The Thrashers were always ahead in the game, and the Canadiens remain the only team in the NHL to not have a win when trailing after the first and/or second period. The Habs are 0-16 when behind after 40 minutes.
Carey Pricedid not have his greatest game, but his team gave him a chance to stay in it. The December Molson Cup segment winner bounced back, with some big saves during an Atlanta power play in overtime, until Dustin Byfuglien blasted in the winner.
It was certainly not a game similar to the ones we witnessed on the Canadiens' seven-game road trip, where the team seemed to just fall flat or run out of gas. In addition to their 50 shots, the Habs missed the net 21 times and had 20 blocked. Craig Ramsay's defenders just managed to keep the second chances away from the attacking Habs.
The Habs also dominated in the faceoff circle (63%) and out hit the Thrashers 23-16.
A goal by captain Brian Gionta, at 15:13 of the third period, sent the game into overtime.
Atlanta did have their share of odd-man rushes and got some breaks on Price, who did seem unfocused at several points throughout the game. The Thrashers hit the post at least 4 times and Price looked unprepared on Rich Peverley's game opening tally. Peverley remains to be a thorn in the Canadiens side, and was on a rush in the overtime that drew a hooking penalty to P.K. Subban.
Price later found his foot inside the goal when Evander Kane shoved a loose puck against his pad, allowing it to slip through the gap and into the net. It's one of those oddball goals, as many players thought the play was dead, but one the Price will certainly want back.
The Canadiens netminder made 24 saves on the afternoon, and remains stuck on 19 wins.
"We played well enough to win," said a disgruntled Price post-game who was notably frustrated over the winning goal. "They had an opportunity to move the puck around and he (Byfuglien) powered it right through me. I'm not happy about losing and I'm not blaming myself, but I gotta play better"
"He needs to continue to work hard. The break will be an opportunity for him to work on his fundamentals," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. "There's a lot more practice time than play time this month, so I'm not concerned too much."
While Price did not bring his A-game, David Desharnais was impressive in his 2010-11 debut. Playing in just his 7th career NHL game, the Quebec native played 13:23 and was 5-1 in faceoffs. Despite a -1 rating, his play earned the confidence of Martin who gave the winger some ice time late in the third period.
The James Wisniewski deal is paying dividends early. The newly acquired rearguard had two assists, including one on the power play. He now has five points with the Canadiens in three games.
"It's very exciting to put on this historic jersey and skate out to 22,000 screaming fans on a Sunday afternoon," said Wisniewski, who had recoreded his 100th career assist. "You get the excitement of the crowd and you feed on that. It makes me more excited to play for the Montreal Canadiens"
"James brings an offensive part to the game," Martin noted. "An example was our first goal of the game. He really helps on that offensive part of the game."
The Canadiens will next host the Pittsburgh Pengiuns on Thursday, to mark the mid-point of their season.
|06:20 ATL||Rich Peverley, 9 (Tobias Enstrom, 25 Zach Bogosian, 4) (ATL: 19 3 22 39 47 31 MTL: 75 52 57 31 58 76)|
|17:56 MTL||Tomas Plekanec, 12 (PP) (James Wisniewski, 20 Yannick Weber, 3) (ATL: 19 6 29 47 31 MTL: 52 13 14 20 31 68)|
|05:42 ATL||Evander Kane, 13 (Patrice Cormier, 1 Chris Thorburn, 9) (ATL: 27 39 33 31 45 9 MTL: 75 6 15 32 31 94)|
|19:44 ATL||Andrew Ladd, 13 (Tobias Enstrom, 26 Niclas Bergfors, 13) (ATL: 39 33 16 18 31 10 MTL: 44 15 32 14 20 31)|
|10:25 MTL||P.k. Subban, 3 (PP) (Roman Hamrlik, 15 Scott Gomez, 16) (ATL: 27 39 31 4 9 MTL: 44 11 21 31 76 67)|
|15:13 MTL||Brian Gionta, 14 (Max Pacioretty, 3 James Wisniewski, 21) (ATL: 29 16 18 31 10 4 MTL: 44 11 21 20 31 67)|
|03:43 ATL||Dustin Byfuglien, 16 (PP) (Tobias Enstrom, 27 Evander Kane, 13) (ATL: 39 33 18 31 9 MTL: 44 15 14 20 31)|
The Thrashers side from Bird Watchers Anonymous