The Canadiens picked up their second preseason win, a 5-1 thumping of the "visiting" team. They close the preseason with a 2-6 record, something that logical fans will have forgotten by Thursday.
Special teams were the key to the Canadiens success Saturday night.. Montreal opened the scoring at 9:57 when Brian Gionta intercepted a Steven Stamkos pass on the penalty kill. The captain was then off to the races on a breakaway, beating Mathieu Garon through the five-hole.
The second period was all Canadiens as Scott Gomez scored his third goal of the preseason, on the power play at 2:17. Mathieu Darche added a third Canadiens goal at 5:41. Vincent Lecavalier netted Tampa's only goal in between the Gomez and Darche tallies at 3:51. Erik Cole closed out the second period scoring with a power play goal at 8:24.
Michael Cammalleri added another power play goal, at 12:57 of the third period to close out the scoring.
Three Josh Gorges1. Scott Gomez 2. Brian Gionta 3.
It was also a game of teammates helping one another out. Throughout the evening Lightning winger Ryan Malone was a general pain in the neck to the Habs players. His first stunt was going after P.K. Subban, after the latter laid a legal hip check on Lecavalier, which ended up with Hal Gill practically picking him up off of Subban.
His attitude carried throughout the game, including cross checking Carey Price into the Habs net after the whistle, and reached it's peak with an elbow-to-head hit on Habs defenseman Chris Campoli. This time Josh Gorges jumped into a mismatch with Malone, but you have to give Gorges credit for defending his defensive partner taking the hits and scoring the take down. Campoli will be evaluated Sunday.
Based on the actions of Malone, and whether or not it's decided that Campoli leaned into it, we should see another episode of ShannyVision on the incident come Monday.
If the preseason is any indication, Scott Gomez should have a great year. He knows he has a lot to prove and has shown it this preseason.
Carey Price may need another 70-game season, and if that is the case we should have nothing to worry about again this season. His confidence level is right where it was last season, and the last two starts have shown he is set to go October 6. The Habs netminder even took part in "the wave" as it passed his end of the rink.
At the start of the preseason, who thought that Raphael Diaz would impress more than Alexei Yemelin? While the Russian-born rearguard watched from the press box, Diaz played a strong game paired up with Jaroslav Spacek and made a perfect pass to his partner setting up the Darche goal. Jacques Martin still has some decisions to make at this point, but with Markov, and potentially Campoli, on the shelf, we could see both Yemelin and Diaz on the roster on Thursday.
With Yannick Weber moving up to the fourth line, and Travis Moen expected back next week, Andreas Engqvist looks like the odd man out and should be expected to have a bus ticket to Hamilton soon. Despite some late PP time, and a decent night, it might be a little too late for him. His only saving grace could be assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth, who could persuade Martin to keep him on for his defensive abilities over Aaron Palushaj.
The Canadiens will head to Toronto Sunday afternoon, before taking a bus to a team bonding session in Collingwood, ON. They will open the regular season Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.