If you had to pick only one Habs game to watch this season, Thursday's match up would probably be a wise choice.
We were treated to a great pace early on, which included three goals in the first five minutes. P.K. Subban scored his 12th of the year early in the frame, on what can only be described as a classic play. Manny Malhotra won an important face-off in the offensive zone, sending the puck to Andrei Markov, who didn't hesitate to put it on a silver platter for his defensive partner. Subban made no mistake, using his patented blistering slap which Curtis McElhinney never saw, to give the Habs a 1-0 lead.
Brandon Dubinsky would quickly answer for the Blue Jackets, but the tie would be short lived. Markov decided to unleash a rocket of his own, via a quality pass from David Desharnais, restoring Montreal's one-goal lead.
What happened next was fairly predictable. It had been one (!) game since Max Pacioretty's last goal, and frankly the goal-scoring drought was unacceptable. Pacioretty decided to put an end to the embarrassing run, by utilizing his NASA-engineered shot release, which saw the puck find its way behind McElhinney before he had a chance to react.
The Blue Jackets appeared to turn the tide during the second period, but the play was whistled dead before the puck had the chance to enter the net. After a great save from Price, the puck found its way to the top of the net, where it stayed for a couple seconds before Corey Tropp popped it off the mesh, displaying some ridiculous hand-eye coordination.
The reason given by the referees as to why the goal was disallowed was, "Because the puck was on top of the net. Once the puck is on top of the net the whistle goes."
Fair enough, but that's not the exact rule.
85.2 Puck Unplayable - When the puck becomes lodged in the netting on the outside of either goal so as to make it unplayable, or if it is "frozen" between opposing players intentionally or otherwise, the Referee shall stop the play. The puck may be played off the goal netting by either team. However, should the puck remain on the goal netting for more than three (3) seconds, play shall be stopped. Should the goalkeeper use his stick or glove to freeze the puck on the back of the net or should a defending player shield an attacking player from playing the puck off the back of the net, the face-off shall take place at one of the face-off spots in the defending zone. Should the puck go under the goal either from behind or the side, or through the mesh from behind or the side, if this is witnessed by an on-ice official, play should be stopped immediately and the ensuing face-off should take place at the nearest face-off spot in the zone nearest to the location where the play was stopped.
Was it three seconds? You be the judge.
Despite how many seconds the puck remained on top of the net, it's worth noting that Tropp might have scored the prettiest no-goal in NHL history. He had Jarred Tinordi sprawled all over him, yet he managed to not only dislodge the puck, but also connect with it in mid-air. Simply beautiful.
The third period set the stage for an NHL first from young stalwart Swede, Jacob de la Rose. Brandon Prust made his way into the offensive zone with the help of a few sweet moves. Prust threw a quick and dirty shot towards the net, which gave de la Rose an opportunity to get a stick on it.
Marko Dano would cut the lead to two a few minutes later, but it was de la Rose's night, as he capitalized on an empty Columbus net to score his second goal of the game.
- It's starting to get impossible to find new ways to describe Price's level of play. You can only look up "otherworldly" so many times in the thesaurus before you run out of options. It's gotten to the point that if Price allows a goal that would fool most netminders, people quickly call it a bad goal. His standard is ridiculously high, and he still comes out of every game looking like the best player in the league. Let's take a moment to appreciate that during his last two starts he's produced a .926 & .931 save percentage, and both of those results lowered his season average.
- P.K. Subban is quietly lining up for another Norris trophy. He's now only one point behind Mark Giordano for the defenseman scoring race, but more importantly he's playing a staunch defensive game.
- Devante Smith-Pelly's first game was rather uneventful, although that's to be expected when a player joins a team mid-season.
- Defensive expert de la Rose is quickly making himself an invaluable member of the roster. Secondary scoring is one of Montreal's biggest weaknesses, and if de la Rose can start to contribute in that department on a regular basis, he'll quickly find himself climbing up the depth roster.
- Andrei Markov found the fountain of youth, and he's not going to share with you so don't bother asking.
- I got more excited the last time I stopped the gas pump at exactly $20.00 than Max Pacioretty did after he scored his 30th. He seems to be reserving his excitement for a bigger number.