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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Memories of D.C.

Aww, nothing like memories. Good memories. Memories that give you the warm and fuzzies.

That's what I got last night watching the Habs take down the Caps 3-2 in a shootout last night in D.C.

Washington, decked out in their retro jerseys probably should have left them in the closet, because they evoked times past when the Habs would regularly beat the Capitals 10-3.

P.K. Subban followed closely by Alexander Ovechkin Feb. 1, 2011. They were at it all night. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Okay it's been a while since those kind of scores (I remember 'em though) but still, we have fresher memories to build on. And that's what happened last night.

Honestly, I pretty much wrote off the Canadiens team after a listless 1st period saw them fall behind 2-0. The first goal was a joke from a couple of vantage points. Andrei Kostitsyn (who struggled last night) failed to control a puck in the neutral zone which would have saw him take off on a 2-on-1 with Scott Gomez. Instead he fumbled it, and the Caps' Mathieu Perreault took the puck deep into the Habs' zone and launched a sharp angle shot past a surprised and upset Carey Price -- who looked weak on the play.

Not a good start for our All-Star goalie, who apparently had some equipment snafus leading up to the game. His equipment arrived late from Raleigh and when it did finally arrive, it was frozen.

The Habs then couldn't convert on a few powerplays, and after the team took a penalty after Price made the save on a breakaway, Knuble slid the puck past Price after a nice play by Mike Green for a powerplay goal.

2-0. And I'm thinking, hoo boy, tonight's gonna be a write-off.

But although they didn't score, the Habs seemed to generate some good momentum from their powerplay, and had some nice chances. Varlamov was solid in nets for Washington. And Ovechkin was being generous by giving the Habs another powerplay right at the end of the period.

Then I remembered, you know, the Habs have been playing pretty well of late when they fall behind early. Here was a chance to redeem themselves for the previous game against the Flyers, which also saw them fall behind 2-0 after one period.

In that game, the Flyers got the all-important "next goal." This time, even if the Habs couldn't score on the powerplay, they finally got that goal on a nice slapper by Brian Gionta who finished off a 2-on-1 with Kostitsyn for his 17th of the year.

This gave the Habs the boost they needed and they began to slowly take over the game. Before the period was out, Captain G. found himself in alone on Varlamov after a sweet pass by Plekanec and he made no mistake, wristing a nice hard shot stick-side past the Washington goalie to tie the game.

Now I'm thinking, if the Habs don't get any points out of this, they can blame their powerplay.

But the Habs continued where they left off, continuing to apply pressure and asserting a puck control game.

To be honest, the Caps completely left the Canadiens off the hook in this one. Up 2-0, it was if the team thought this one was done and done after 10 minutes. And to Montreal's credit, they found a way to slowly chip away at this one.

But the Caps didn't exactly roll over and die. Price made up for his slow start with some nice saves, notably on a shorthanded breakaway midway in the 3rd. And Ovie completely laid out Subban in an open ice check that more or less stopped him straight up and flipped him through the air. Actually Ovechkin showed nice restraint with that one, and showed that you can still be effective with the body, without being dangerous -- and still get on the highlight reel.

The teams swapped chances in OT, but nobody could find the net.

In the shootout I was happy to see Gionta take the first attempt, he of the hot hands. And he made no mistake, roofing a backhand past the sprawling Varlamov -- who deserved a better fate in this one. Price slammed the door shut, and the Canadiens picked up a very important 2 points.

Important because the Bruins beat the 'Canes last night in regulation. So the Habs kept pace with the Bruins, while increasing their lead on the 9th place 'Canes and the 8th place Thrashers, who also lost last night.

Habs can't rest on their laurels though because they have another important 2 points to pick up tonight in Montreal against the Florida Panthers, who lost in a shootout here in Toronto last night.

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