Canadiens goaltender Carey Price makes a save against Thrashers' Chris Thorburn on Tuesday night. Scott Cunningham, NHLI via Getty Images
What was so good about Halak in last year's playoffs was he stole games for the Canadiens, games they probably normally would not have won. That's how key the goaltending position is, because it can literally win, or lose, a team games.
Last night was one of those nights for Carey Price, on the winning side of the ledger. He stole the game for the Canadiens against a freefalling Atlanta Thrashers team who lost 3-1 to a team that had not won in Atlanta in 9 tries. Price was on fire, and a bit lucky but too bad nobody was on hand to see it.
If I had turned on the tv during the 3rd period without knowing the score and saw all those empty seats, my immediate reaction would have been that it was a blow out, that the Habs were up by a large margin and the game was well in hand.
That wasn't exactly the case. A pitiful crowd of a but over 11,000 was announced, but in reality the number had to be half of that. Which is pretty sad, given the Habs usually draw a lot of people out no matter where they play. And there were plenty of Habs fans in attendance last night... so can you say Les Thrashers de Quebec!?
There was a lot of excitement in the province yesterday with Quebec City announcing Pelardeau's involvement in the new arena, for naming rights etc. prompting Michel Bergeron to say on "L'Antichambre" last night that he wouldn't be surprised "...if there were a team in Quebec next year."
I think he's being a bit overly optimistic, but you never know. We all hope it happens.
Back to the game, really the Habs were running around the entire night, hanging on against the ropes. The ol' rope-a-dope played to perfection (must be tuning up for the playoffs). After the 1st period the Canadiens played a reaction game: let the Thrashers do as they may, Price'll make the save then we'll turn it around and get some chances.
Max Pacioretty, who was clearly the best Hab last night, scored a nice if not lucky goal but had a breakaway to put the game away and unfortunately missed the net after deeking Chris Mason out of his pants. Then the Thrashers scored to ruin Price's shutout with about 6 minutes to play.
With the Thrashers buzzing Price made some key saves and with the empty net, Gionta used his speed and hustle to get to a puck and shoot it in to give the Habs the 3-1 win.
An important 2 points to keep pace given the Rangers lost but both the Caps and Bruins won. Especially since the team traditionally has trouble with the Thrashers, even more so in Atlanta.
Off to Tampa Bay, where at least we won't have to worry about Purse-gate 2... we hope.