For awhile this game looked truly hopeless. The Canadiens came out of the gate a step behind the Coyotes and got behind fairly early when a series of mistakes by Jaroslav Spacek and miscommunication with Alexei Emelin resulted in Mikkel Boedker getting two one-timer chances in 9 seconds, both of which set up by Cal O'Reilly, the second of which beat Price.
Things got much worse at about the 13 minute mark of the 1st period when Oliver Ekman-Larsson put an awkward, needless check on Tomas Plekanec that had him on the ground for several minutes. Habs fans were collectively holding their breath with anxiety until Plekanec returned in the second period. You have to think that with all the injuries, losing Plekanec would be the straw that breaks the Camel's back.
The officials let the players play tonight, which allowed a little bit of flow into a mostly boring game. While the teams were remarkably evenly matched, the lack of excitement in the crowd was palpable and sucked energy out of the game.
The Habs one powerplay last night was hugely dominant. They scored a goal that was waved off due to the official blowing the whistle too early. It was hard to blame the ref for blowing the whistle as it looked like Mike Smith had the puck, but if the puck trickles in without someone touching it after the whistle is blown, I think it's time to allow that as a goal. It would be a simple rule change.
P.K. Subban had a great night, finishing 10-3 in Olivier's scoring chance count, a +3 with 2 shots. He also tied Plekanec for the best Fenwick rating at +8.
Scoring Summary from NHL.com
Brian Gionta had a great night by any measure, but he took it to another level when Plekanec came back. Jacques Martin juggled the lines a little bit, putting Travis Moen with Gionta and Plekanec. It paid instant dividends as Gionta took advantage of a good puck battle by Plekanec and some slipped a wraparound passed a surprised Mike Smith on a brutal turnover.
Later in the period Gionta made a beautiful pass to a wide open Travis Moen on the rush, who sniped a goal passed Smith. Moen is now one goal behind last season's total. Moen is shooting a full 16% higher than his career average, so we can't expect this to last much longer, but it sure is nice to see a guy like him get rewarded.
Phoenix tied it up on a great shift by Raffi Torres combined with some blown coverage by the fourth line and Raphael Diaz. Diaz was completely ineffective in the corner against Torres to begin the play, being easily kept off the puck, and he was equally ill suited to fight Torres for position in front of the net for the rebound on the Yandle shot.
Carey Price battled hard last night, making many unconventional saves and offering up very few rebounds in a game where the puck was bouncing all over the place.
Josh Gorges continues to show how much better he is now that his knee is at 100%. After getting leveled behind the net by the monstrously huge Martin Hanzal, Gorges followed the play up the ice as Eller gained the zone, and pounced on a loose puck to drive it behind Smith for the overtime winner.
Despite being given arguably the team's two best even strength wingers as of late, David Desharnais continues to struggle mightily. His had a great night on faceoffs, but he can't manufacture anything at even strength. On most shifts it looked like Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty didn't have a center at all. Chris Boucher's scouting method has Desharnais playing below his season average for 5 straight games now. For the first time since being called up last year, Desharnais is looking like an AHLer.
Emelin continues to get benched for mistakes that Diaz makes regularly. A frustrating reality of Martin's coaching. He has a good system, but he plays favourites. There's speculation that communication is an issue, so Andrei Markov coming back could be huge for Alexei.
Three: 1. Carey Price 2. Mike Smith 3. Raffi Torres
Olivier Bouchard's analysis
Mike Boone's About Last Night
Lions in Winter's dome hockey team
Mitch Melnick's Good, Bad and Ugly
Chris Boucher's scouting report
View from the losing side at Five For Howling
Next up on the schedule, Peter Budaj gets the start against the Nashville Predators. Andrei Kostitsyn is confirmed to be out, while Mike Cammalleri is a game time decision. Scott Gomez is expected to return to the lineup on the fourth line wing. Check out the Preds at the great On the Forecheck.