Wow. It's crazy what happens when the Montreal Canadiens get a bit of luck on their side for once. With the Detroit Red Wings coming out of the gate very lackadaisical and without legendary defenseman and captain NIcklas Lidstrom, the Habs dominated the Red Wings on the scoreboard 7-2 and chased All-Star goaltender Jimmy Howard after just 20 minutes of play.
Much maligned Scott Gomez got the game going with a rocket pass that bounced off Rene Bourque and behind Howard. The scouting reports that Bourque was a slow skater couldn't have been more wrong, as he's been flying down the wing every game in his new Habs jersey.
Alexei Emelin then registered his first career NHL goal off some amazing work by Andrei Kostitsyn, who won the puck off of Henrik Zetterberg and then battled his way behind the net to through it back to the point where Emelin wired it off the post and in.
Desharnais and Plekanec followed that up with goals on defensive breakdowns by the Red Wings who were completely out of sorts in the first period.
The Habs followed that period by capitalizing on their first two shots of the second period and sitting back until midway through the third period when Jiri Hudler scored a pair for Detroit. The first goal Hudler scored came a fraction of a second after TSN's Gord Miller said shutout, and explained how he had no affect on ruining shutouts.
Erik Cole finished the game off by capitalizing on a set up by Lars Eller. Cole's whistle-to-whistle effort has been a joy to watch this season, and as one EOTP commenter (JD_) put it, the rest of the team needs to drink some Cole-Aid.
Despite the big gap in goalscoring, Carey Price put on an impressive performance, especially in the second when the Red Wings owned the puck for most of the period.
The real star of the night however, was Lars Eller. Although Eller had a relatively quite night offensively with 1 assist, he was put against Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for nearly all his shifts. He managed to hold those two superstars off with fantastic defensive play and puck possession. Datsyuk was held without a shot in 16:17 of ice time.
While the season is most likely still in the tank, there's some encouraging signs on the horizon:
Max Pacioretty is back to being rewarded for his excellent shot production, up to 35 points on the season now.
Cole is leading the Habs with 39 points which is pretty great for a guy we were told was a terrible signing akin to the 11 points, -9 wonder that is Ville Leino.
Eller and David Desharnais continue to excel against tougher competition we were expecting them to face this season.
Bourque is starting to build chemistry with Plekanec, and his speed down the wing adds a different dimension to the lineup.
Kaberle may be sub par in his own zone, but he's putting up points effortlessly in his bottom pairing role with Montreal, even with a dysfunctional powerplay. 13 in 20 games, and he even has a +2 rating after tonight.
Hidden in such a solid game however was one quibble to be had, the mildly controversial move by Randy Cunneyworth to bench P.K. Subban after a penalty that negated a powerplay in the first period. I've already ranted on twitter and in the comments about how I believe this was a poor decision by Cunneyworth, but to be realistic Subban is going to be the same player tomorrow, regardless of the semantics.
Three Stas: 1) David Desharnais 2) Rene Bourque 3) Alexei Emelin