For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.
A busy 24 hours in Habs land has seen the team exchange Zach Kassian for goaltender Ben Scrivens, scratch Alex Emelin in favour of Marc Barberio, and reinsert Sven Andrighetto into the lineup. None of these moves are grossly altering the landscape on their own, but the Canadiens de Montreal are hoping that their combined impact can propel the team to a win - a rarity of late.
To break out of their slump, the Habs have to face off against a newly minted rival that has seen its share of struggle this season as well: the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- With the addition of Scrivens, who went to Cornell, the Habs have two Ivy-League goaltenders on the bench (Mike Condon went to Princeton). Take a drink every time the announcers reference their intellect; feel your brain cells diminish each time you do.
- According to Sportsnet, the Habs haven't lost seven in a row since 1995. I've got a good feeling about tonight simply because the odds say we have to win eventually. Right? ...right?
- The Habs need a first goal. They need a powerplay goal, too. If one or both of those things come early, it will provide a huge confidence boost for me. It might also help the team.
- The Habs don't seem organized to start the game. Part of that can be attributed to the injection of new blood into the lineup, but there's been a lot of talk about the team squeezing its sticks too tightly. It's evident when you watch them try to find each other on the ice. They're forcing it.
- The Lightning take an early penalty, and the Habs' powerplay will get its first chance to level out its weak percentages. They''re operating with four forwards and I'm optimistic about the change.
- Marc Barberio with a glorious chance on Bishop, but he runs out of room to slip it by the Transformer-sized goaltender. I imagine Emelin looking on and thinking, "I would have scored there."
- Tonight's Club 1909 game code is "Carey," and they picked it to make you feel sad.
- Condon gets tested a few times halfway through the period and makes some sharp saves. Any time I feel I'm disappointed with his performance, I remind myself he is more gifted than I am academically and athletically. That fixes my wagon.
- Kucherov makes a beautiful play to create a chance in the slot, but Condon foils him. Has the move to obtain Scrivens forced him to raise his game?
- The Habs have mitigated that early sloppiness with their speed. The puck seems to be bouncing around, but someone in a white sweater always seems to the first on it. Tampa also appeared sleepy to start, and now that they are waking up the Habs will need to adjust.
- Montreal scores and gets a lead for the first time in three decades! Tomas Plekanec completes a beautiful play from PK Subban and Sven Andrighetto.
- The strange set of circumstances to end the period: Tomas Plekanec chips the puck out of the air and into the netting as the period expires, which may result in a delay of game penalty. But hey, he scored, you know? Cut him a break.
Barberio stopped by Bishop pic.twitter.com/k6khLbnipJ— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 29, 2015
- The referees do not cut Pleks a break. The Habs begin the period down a man.
- It's killed off, and you know the Turtleneck Assassin is breathing easier.
- The Habs get a bad bounce. Tampa has been applying more pressure since the midpoint of the first, and the puck bounces through traffic before bobbling past Condon. We're tied at one, and frankly it's devastating.
- Mike Condon finds a spare puck behind his net. The announcers credit his Ivy League education. Everybody drink!
- Alex Galchenyuk dances, dishes the puck to Markov, and takes the pass back for a wrister that regains Montreal the lead. It's 2-1.
- One person who understands the gravity of the game? Mike Condon. He's standing on his his brilliant, oversaturated, Ivy League head tonight. Speaking of which, he took a Steven Stamkos clapper right off that noggin. That couldn't have tickled.
- A lot of people circulate the rumour that Stamkos could end up in Montreal due to his longtime friendship with PK Subban. While I'd love Stammer in a Habs' uniform, watching him joust with PK has significantly increased the entertainment value of Tampa-Montreal games.
- It's going to come up: yes, DD leads Galchenyuk in ice time. Sometimes I try to justify this to myself by saying that Galchenyuk produces well because his ice time is limited, but then I realize I've never had the opportunity to see what he can do with consistent first line minutes.
- PK is still looking for that second goal of the year, but you can tell from his game he doesn't care how he contributes. He's out there to create and destroy plays, for his own team and the opposition respectively, and there are few as capable of either.
- One thing that is pretty unanimous, in the comments here and on Twitter: Daniel Carr is going to stay with this team. He's busy, he's fast, and he's smart. Easy fit.
- Jason Garrison ties it for Tampa on a wraparound. Mike Condon looks immediately dejected. With six minutes left, that one hurts the whole team at a crucial juncture. 2-2.
- Stop me if you've heard this before: 21 seconds later, Callahan strikes from the hash marks. Condon was out of position. It's 3-2 Tampa.
- Montreal opts for a coach's challenge due to interference. Hockey gods, you are unjust and unfair, but please favour the Habs here. For me.
- The goal stands, because the hockey gods are merciless and unfeeling, much as I have become over the course of this losing streak.
- The Habs now need a total of four goals to win the game, which is akin to asking the team to squeeze water from a stone.
- Then, as though he hears me, Dale Weise scores! The play had continued for a few minutes following, but upon further review something finally goes the Habs' way.
- Upon further review of the further review, Tampa challenges Weise's goal.
- It's a good goal. Breathe. Just breathe. 3-3.
- Torrey Mitchell takes a tough hooking call with four minutes remaining and the Habs head to the kill. They are in tough now.
- Time runs out. Ladies and gentlemen, can you spell OT?
- People slag him for it all the time, but one of the reasons I like David Desharnais in 3 on 3 is his overwhelming patience with the puck. He'll wait as long as he needs to, and while that's usually a fault, it's a bonus in this format.
- The Habs absolutely storm the Tampa net for the last minute of overtime, but a big save by a sliding Stamkos in the crease - yes, you read that correctly - sends the game to a shootout.
- Why does it have to be like this?
- Galchenyuk has looked immensely strong tonight, and he's a lock to go in the shootout.
- Marchessault up first for the Lightning. Gloved by Condon. 0-0.
- Chucky for Montreal. Stopped by the Michelin Man. 0-0.
- Filpulla scores and the people in my home begin to fear for their safety. Nearby breakables are quietly put away. 1-0 Lightning.
- Bryan Flynn scores! 1-1.
- Kucherov stymied by Condon. 1-1. Pacioretty lines up for the potential win.
- SCORES! Patches locks it up like a captain should, and the Habs finally, frustratingly, fittingly win one. Thank you, Captain America.
The Habs have broken their losing strea at six, and look to head back into action immediately tomorrow night against Florida and the ageless Jaromir Jagr. I'll be back to provide more coverage and hopefully we'll be just as happy.
EOTP 3 Stars
3. It's not his fault he received a blender for Christmas.
1. It really was weird.
- Plekanec ends his 21-game goal scoring drought.
- Galchenyuk scores on a nice shot.
- Weise ties the game.