Galchenyuk OT Goal Breaks Habs 4-Game Losing Streak In Arizona

Photo by Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Galchenyuk OT Goal Breaks Habs 4-Game Losing Streak In Arizona

Alex Galchenyuk’s OT goal broke the Habs 4-game losing streak as they beat the Coyotes 5-4 in Arizona Thursday night. The game that was as erratic as their season has been, with ups and downs culminating in the sudden-death win.

It started off well, disintegrated quickly, and ended up with a squeaked-out OT win thanks to Alex Galchenyuk’s quick hands.

Montreal outshot Arizona 40-25, which is a definite change from their pattern of being outshot by almost the same ratio.

Let’s get to the recap:

First Period: Shots 8-6 Montreal

Goals: Max Pacioretty (Phillippe Danault, Jeff Petry), 00:57; Andrei Markov (Michael McCarron, Daniel Carr), 13:10

Max Pacioretty, netting his 200th of his career, opened the scoring with a beautiful pass from Phillippe Danault as they battled for control of the puck in front of the Arizona net. Alexander Radulov got the puck away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson to free it for his teammates.

With that momentum, they played a spectacular first period, staving off the Coyotes nicely. At 13 minutes into the period, Andrei Markov got a second goal for the Habs, with a rocket from the blue line – looking very much like teammate Shea Weber with the shot:

The period ended with a very energetic Habs team up 2-0.

Second Period: Shots 15-12 Montreal

Goals: Christian Dvorak (PPG; Max Domi, Oliver Ekman-Larsson), 13:46; Max Domi (Peter Holland, Connor Murphy, 15:45); Alex Goligoski (Jordan Martinook), 16:07

This frame was where it fell apart for the Habs. Andrew Shaw took a penalty at 11:02, but the team killed it easily. However, right on the heels of that penalty, they took a delay-of-game penalty and went back to the penalty kill. That gave the Coyotes their first goal (somehow still blamed on Andrew Shaw, by media and social media users).

Arizona’s second goal came 2 minutes after that one, with a scramble in front of Carey Price and resulting in a review (which led to a good-goal verdict).

The referee was standing right there – it was reviewed and then called.

Frustrating already, and then the Coyotes scored their 3rd unanswered goal, definitely an off-night for Price at this point.

Third Period: Shots 13-6 Montreal

Goals:

  • Max Pacioretty (PPG; Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry), 2:52; Alexander Radulov (Phillippe Danault, Max Pacioretty), 9:56
  • Christian Dvorak (Shane Doan, Alex Goligoski), 15:08

Max Pacioretty, on a power play, got a much-needed relief goal to tie the game, almost 3 minutes into the period. From right in front, he let the puck rip past Mike Smith, and got his 201st career goal (27th of the season).

Seven minutes later, Alexander Radulov got the Habs their go-ahead goal, with a neat little flick upward to beat Smith:

It looked as though the Habs might pull it off, winning by 1 or even scoring another, until this happened with less than 5 minutes to play:

With the game tied, the OT would decide who got the second point.

OT: Shots 4-1 Montreal

Goal: Alex Galchenyuk (Max Pacioretty), 2:13

More than halfway through the OT period, Alex Galchenyuk sniped a beautiful shot past Smith, netting the game winner and breaking the Habs’ 4-game losing streak. The relief was palpable.

Some Thoughts:

Based on my Twitter timeline, Carey Price was either having a rough night (my opinion), or deserved to be roundly criticized for somehow not living up to his elite goaltender status.

Here’s the problem with the latter: concern is warranted. It was an off night for our goalie, and we don’t see that too often. Still, we’ve seen some soft goals scored on him of late, and speculation has run rampant.

Some of the theories:

  • “He’s hurt.”

I can assure you he is not. There isn’t one expert who will tell you otherwise. Having attended a game, sitting at ice level just a couple of weeks ago, and watching him very intently when he was in nets on our side of the ice, I watched a very strong, confident, healthy, skilled Price even when the action was not in front of him. There were many analysts watching the Arizona game who were quick to dispel any rumors leaning that way.

Unlikely, as well, that the team would play an injured Price – even if it were a minor injury. Being the primary goaltender, being as proficient as he is, the doctors, coaches, and GM would not take a chance of putting him in nets only to have said fictitious injury compounded in rough play.

So put that one to rest. Please.

  • “He’s stopped playing for his coach.”

When the Habs did so badly last season, the speculation that Michel Therrien had “lost the room” was rampant. I may be newer to this than many of you, but it doesn’t strike me as the attitude of any professional athlete to just quit on their team to spite their coach. They still have statistics to create, reputations to uphold, confidence to gain (or regain), and pride as professionals.

So the notion that Price would – for whatever reason – suddenly want to drive his save percentage down, just because he might have a problem with the coach? Sounds ridiculous to me, how about you?

  • “He wants to be traded because he hasn’t won the Cup with the Habs yet.”

Ridiculous continued. Even if it were true. Price has the kind of relationship with the coaching staff, and the team managers/owners that give him a comfort level of honest communication. We’ve heard how he is consulted for many decisions. It would stand to reason that if he did want to leave the city, he would ask for a trade.

So, put that one to rest too. Please.

  • “He’s lost his competitiveness.”

This is as galling as the statement that he’s stopped playing for Therrien. There is nothing that is non-competitive about Carey Price. In fact, if those of you slamming him don’t believe that he’s  being harder on himself for the 4th goal – and the night in general – than all of your accusations combined, you don’t know Carey Price at all. He takes his game very seriously, and to suggest that he’s lost his competitive edge is insulting to the fan base, as well as to the goaltender.

  • “He’s tired because he has a new baby at home.”

Yes, they qualify this with the concession that they know he’s playing away from home this week. But even if he were home, he’s been a father for almost a year now. His daughter is not an infant, and though it isn’t our business to know what goes on in the Price household, blaming new fatherhood for a goalie’s off night is as silly as the other speculative rumors above.

It is a rare night that we talk about Carey Price being unfocused. But he’s human – despite the memes and hyperbole we all use when in awe of his talents – and humans have off nights.

To somehow suggest that he’s lost his edge

What does that mean for Price? What does it mean for the Habs?

It means nothing on a larger scale. It means he had an off night. Have you ever had a bad day? Does that mean you’re a failure at what you do?

‘Nuff said. Yes, he’s being paid the big bucks for stopping goals, and that’s all he’s paid to do. The Habs had a 137-minute scoreless streak. Is that because Carey Price is injured/quitting on his coach/unfocused/tired?

He can’t score the goals. He wasn’t stellar Thursday night, but he did make important stops. How about this one?

Let’s talk about the bad goal that tied the game. How many times have we seen Price out of his net, playing the puck, getting back into position, and stopping goals? Too often to count. Even Thursday, he lost his stick in a scramble to defend the net, but without it, he still zeroed in on that puck and froze it with his glove.

The point is, when he makes those stops, we are all breathless in admiration. And yet, the one time – or 2 or 3 in a night – where he doesn’t make them? We can’t give up on him, or suddenly assume the worst because he’s out of focus.

All we can hope is that this game boosted the confidence of the team, the scoring will begin to happen again, and the Habs will be back on their winning streaks.

But the tweets that are dumping on him, insulting him – many tagging him in their insults – are the kinds of tweets that I find myself using to block the users.

More positives:

  • Alexander Radulov. What’s not to love about this guy? He is all heart, and it shows.

  • Alex Galchenyuk: Scoring the OT goal was a big win for him personally, and will – hopefully – cue the comeback to full health and strong performances.
  • The Habs are still doing well, and are in no danger of tanking; they are still first in the Atlantic division, with 8 points on the next-highest team. There is really no need to panic, and healthy concern is fine. Going overboard with hyperbole and wild exaggerated conjecture just looks silly on the part of the panicking few.

They have a tough weekend coming up; after flying home to Montreal to play the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, they will be in Boston for a game against the Bruins on Sunday. Somehow, though, they always seem to muster their best competitive faces when they play the rivals in Beantown. Here’s hoping we see a turnaround this weekend.

Next game, Saturday, is at the Bell Centre and puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.

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