What a brutal, brutal game.
The only redeeming aspects of that game were the continuing brilliance of Carey Price, and the resurgence of the kid/EGG line. Price was really the only thing that kept this game from being a blowout, holding the Predators to nothing but a fluke goal scored just as a five-on-three powerplay ended, until Seth Jones picked off a pass with under 90 seconds left and caught the Habs napping for the game winner.
After Brendan Gallagher got the first shot of the game, it was all Nashville for the next 27 minutes. A series of powerplays on iffy calls helped that, but the Predators' dominance of puck possession wasn't restricted to the powerplay, they dummied the Habs at even strength too.
After Gallagher scored to tie the game at one, Montreal pushed back and outshot the Predators 28 Fenwick events to 21, but the game was never really close from a possession perspective.
The actual game however, was very close. In fact, if it weren't for four officials deciding to rewrite the rule book on the fly, the game would have at least gone to overtime, if not been a win for Montreal.
To open the third period, Lars Eller pounced on a loose puck and scooped it into the net under Pekka Rinne's glove. The referee behind the net immediately called it a goal, which means that in order for it not to count, there needs to be conclusive video evidence that the puck did not cross the line. After deciding to review the play with video, the official went to center ice, and claimed that the call on the ice was no goal.
Bad calls are made in the NHL all the time, and they go against every team. However as a friend of mine noted last night, this wasn't a bad call, it wasn't a judgement call, it was a clear and obvious breaking of NHL rules. Once the call on the ice is made that it's a goal, it must be overturned by video review in order to be called off. Officials further away from the net can not overrule another ref and call off a goal, that is not within their power. That an official had the gall to stand up on national television and pretend that he made a call that he didn't make is a complete embarrassment. One that should come with a demand for explanation, and some accountability from the league.
With human officials we are bound to accept the occurrence of human error, but that human error has to be restricted to judgement calls, we can not allow officials to rewrite the rule book on the fly to make up for a call they regret.
To compound matters further, Brandon Prust missed a routine forecheck and went shoulder first into the boards while falling, which likely aggravated his previous shoulder injuries. Gorges continued to play in the game, but don't be surprised if he ends up missing time with a concussion as well. Losing two top-9 forwards in a single game is catastrophic enough, but to have it happen when you're already missing Max Pacioretty could be crippling.
Michel Therrien has failed to adjust his gameplan without Pacioretty in the lineup already, with the Canadiens being outplayed in three straight games, how will they survive down two more players? How will they hold up against the powerhouse San Jose Sharks next week? It's not painting a pretty picture of the coaching staff.
There are so many negatives to draw from this game, but as I write this I just can't bring myself to dwell on them. This was the first game of 8 that the Canadiens have played that they deserved to lose, and they had to get jobbed in order to lose it. As infuriated as I am by the brutal officiating that took place, the Canadiens have lost three games this season, all by one goal. They've won 5 games this season, all by two or more goals. Price has been everything fans want him to be, and even without their best forward and with the Plekanec line struggling, they're still in every game.
This is a good team, even if they may be held back by the coaching staff.
And don't forget to check out reaction from the winning side at On the Forecheck, which is a fantastic site.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Canadiens vs. Predators: Top Six Minutes - Zebra Safari Edition
- Daniel Briere injured after taking a check to the head, done for the night
- Does Sylvain Lefebvre know what he's doing?
- Can the P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov pairing be the NHL's best?