What better way to spend a Saturday night than watching Montreal play Toronto in another thiller to the end?
I was 30 minutes outside of Toronto at 3 p.m. this afternoon. With Poke Check's team eliminated early ( 0-3, they stunk, she did a great impersonation of an Alexei Kovalev disappearing act), I hit the 401 running and gunned it home just in time to catch the drop of the puck at 7.
A half hour after I was home, I wondered why I'd rushed!
It was starting to look like a replay of the last pair of games against the Buds where the Leafs dominated and the Habs hung on.
Trailing 2-0 late in the first, the Canadiens were given a ginormous wake up call thanks to good ol' Darcy Tucker. With the Habs firmly on snore and Tucker running wild and playing his usual high intensity game, the winger formerly known as "Sideshow Bob" happened to pick on the one Hab with as much pride and grit as he.
Never wake a sleeping bear!
Francis Bouillon is likely not very well known outside Montreal. Bouillon is a home grown talent that was never drafted. In junior hockey, he was listed at 5' 8" and 185 lbs. Little do people know, he trains with the same rigor as Rod Brind 'Amour. He's likely closer to 200 lbs. now, with arms like stovepipes. The fact that he is a little shorter than most NHLer's only means that when he hits, his shoulders are square at the ribs. He hits on the move and hits hard, usually lifting whoever he nails up of the ice. He once laid Lindros flat on his ass and doesn't shy away from anything.
What happened in this game, late in the first, was Bouillon has just plastered a Leafs player cutting inside him, when Tucker came along and hit Boullion while he was offstride and compromised. Half bent over, and along the boards, Bouillon didn't take too kindly to it. He immediatly got up, flung the gloves to the ice, and skated three strides towards a startled Tucker, who didn't want any part of Bouillon. As Tucker was backing off, the refs quickly stepped in and Tucker unwisely decided to get close and lippy. With officials trying to separate them, Bouillon, just inches from Tucker's blathering yap, delivered a footlong jab to Tucker's nose, leaving him whinning and bleeding from both nostrils. To add insult, Tucker received 2 and 2, a charging call to go with the roughing tag both he and Bouillon got. In all honesty, Bouillon would easily have deserved 5 for the jackhammer to Tucker's face, but it was so subtle and close in, the refs likely missed it.
With 2:10 to go, after a miserable first period, the Habs headed to their dressing room with a little more focus.
On the RDS network telecast, it was told that coach Guy Carbonneau gave the team it's needed reaming after which captain Koivu took the floor and spoke his piece. The Canadiens were a different team starting the second period.
With Habs in game at long last, they began nibbling away at the Leafs lead. After making it 2-1, the Leafs popped another one in to make it 3-1, but the Habs and Koivu had no quit in them.
Koivu, an inspired sight after rallying the troops, scored both 3rd period goals to bring the rivals to an exciting O.T. frame. After that ended in a deadlock, the teams headed for the shootout I hate and dread so much.
After Koivu slipped a nifty deke past a solid Raycroft (he played a damned good game tonight), Sundin answered for the Leafs.
Next up for the Habs, was the most unlikely choice of Sheldon Souray, owner of one of the NHL's hardest shots. He slowly moved in on Raycroft and seemed ready to let go with a cannon, when he faked and froze the goalie before deking and lifting the game winner high to the blocker side. The move surely surprised Raycroft not to mention the over 21,000 fans in attendance.
While the Leafs have mostly outplayed the Habs in four meetings so far this season, the series is now tied at 2-2.
Please God, before I die, (and I have years to go but have waited way too long), let these teams finally meet in a playoff for once