Habs Blow 2-goal Lead, Lose To Bolts In OT

Photo: Mike Carlson / Getty Images

Habs Blow 2-goal Lead, Lose To Bolts In OT

The Habs blew a 2-goal lead late in the third period, losing in overtime to the Bolts, 4-3, Wednesday evening in Tampa Bay.

The game started with a strong Canadiens team scoring first, and despite the Lightning’s equalizer in the first, they scored 2 more to take the lead.

But halfway through the third period, the Bolts came within 1, and with less than 5 minutes in the period, forced overtime.

There was a good chance for the Canadiens to win in regulation, when Tampa Bay took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty with over 2 minutes to go, but the power play was less than stellar, and overtime became a reality.

Here’s a period-by-period overview.

First Period: Shots 8-7 Montreal

Goals:

  • Alexander Radulov (Paul Byron), 3:24; Shea Weber (PPG; Paul Byron, Max Pacioretty), 13:31
  • Tyler Johnson (Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat), 10:39

Alexander Radulov opened the scoring with a gorgeous shot fed by Paul Byron. Byron had taken the puck down the ice, got it into the zone, and from behind the net, passed it to Radulov, who found the back of the net.

Tyler Johnson evened things out with a shot off a tic-tac-toe play that beat Carey Price.

But the Habs regained the lead when, on a power play, Shea Weber let a rocket fly and it found its mark. With picture-perfect passing from Paul Byron and Max Pacioretty, the Habs went ahead with this goal:

Second Period: Shots 13-8 Tampa Bay

Goal: Chris Terry (Daniel Carr, Michael McCarron), 3:07

The Canadiens got their insurance goal shortly after the period began, with a great effort from the young players on the team. This time it was the Habs’ turn to play tic-tac-toe: from Michael McCarron, to Daniel Carr, right over to Chris Terry who buried it:

The period progressed nicely, the Habs continuing to dominate the ice. Short-lived, as it would turn out.

Third Period: Shots 8-6 Tampa Bay

Goals: Victor Hedman (Nikita Kucherov), 11:14; Ondrej Palat (PPG; Victor Hedman, Brayden Point), 16:30

The Habs were not as dominant in the first half of this period, and it only got worse after Victor Hedman cut their lead in half. When they took a penalty at 15:19, the Lightning – with a dangerous power play – evened the score.

The Canadiens had a chance to win this game, when the Bolts took a too-many-men penalty with just over 2 minutes to go, but the power play was nothing short of dismal. In fact, they almost gave up a short-handed goal – more than once – as their opponents bore down on them, besting them in their own zone.

It was thanks to Carey Price that the game went to overtime – due to his big saves in the 3rd.

OT: Shots 2-0 Tampa Bay

Goal: Tyler Johnson (Jason Garrison, Andrei Vasilevskiy), 1:36

Alexander Radulov had the puck, in a 2-on-1 coming into the Lightning’s zone, but passed it to Max Pacioretty, who failed to get a valid shot. Tyler Johnson got the winning goal just 96 seconds into overtime, on a frustrating play that had him facing two Habs players with no challenge whatsoever.

Some Thoughts

  • Why is it, after a loss, Twitter lights up with those who blame Carey Price? How can he be blamed when he makes saves like this:

Or this:

Or the others he made throughout the 61-1/2 minutes?

Price was incredible, and those who sneer every time he lets in a goal are clearly just looking to blame him for something – whatever their reason.

In fact, Price cannot be blamed when a team that plays successfully for 40 minutes suddenly slams on the brakes and sits back on a lead. But for some reason, Twitter – which had me seriously irritable during, and after, this game – becomes a dump-on-Price ground.

Folks, look at the bigger picture. A team isn’t only its goalie – though this team tends to lean on Price a lot more than they should (even Pacioretty’s post-game comments alluded to that). The goalie isn’t the one out there scoring, and there’s only so much he can do.

  • Shea Weber – who, despite a power-play goal, didn’t have his best game at all – gets the opposite. He can, apparently, do no wrong. Perhaps there are still people who want to compare him to P.K. Subban, or perhaps there are those who want to justify the trade by seeing him only in a good light.

Perhaps, as I surmised on Twitter with our illustrious site leader after the game, it’s related; those who would regularly dump on Subban need a scapegoat, and they can’t blame Subban’s replacement, so they immediately go to Carey Price.

Yes, I know, conspiracy theorist and all that. But I’ve been on Twitter – and on “Habs Twitter” – for a long enough time to see the patterns.

  • Whatever it is, the consensus among those of us who see the whole picture, and the depth and breadth of the game is that Price had another strong, solid performance, while the rest of the team – Weber included – failed their goalie.
  • Weber did get quite a lot of attention after this hit, at 6:30 of the 3rd period:

A slower look:

It was a clean hit; there was no boarding, no head targeted, and though it looked really bad, there is nothing suspendable about it (for those anxious – or hoping – for a league review). That said, it was a tough thing to see, and a reminder of how dangerous the game really is.

This was Weber being Weber.

  • I’m as frustrated as you all are, regarding the Habs power play. It was understood that Kirk Muller – who ran the power play prior to leaving the team in 2011 – was going to be He Who Fixed The Power Play for the Canadiens. We haven’t seen that much of an improvement.

Yes, they are scoring more on their power play than they did last season – though¬†last season wasn’t the best example. But they are not consistent, and it makes us wonder what’s going on in practices, vis-√†-vis actual power-play system training.

The power play the Habs got late in the third, Wednesday evening, with a golden opportunity to score a winning goal in regulation against Tampa, was a dismal reminder that it’s not fixed, not by a long shot.

Let’s hope Captain Kirk can put something together that sticks; this team needs to be dangerous, and with Shea Weber’s rocket of a shot, the power play has to be effective.

  • Where’s Brendan Gallagher of yesteryear? He’s not only not scoring (28 games now), but he made an error that led to the tying goal. We miss you, Gally.

Positive note of the evening: Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov on the same line is simply sublime. These are two players with hockey smarts, skill, and work ethic that should spread to the team; it does, and is visible, in some games, but not in all. This duo is truly exciting to watch.

The Habs are on their annual winter-holiday road trip, so their next game is Thursday, in the second of a back-to-back Florida tour. They face the Panthers with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

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One Response to Habs Blow 2-goal Lead, Lose To Bolts In OT

  1. weber although he had a great hit and a great goal also was the direcet result of 2 of TB goals…on the first TB goal he flubbed a clearing attempt that resulted in a goal and he took a penalty that resulted in the 3rd goal. So weber was directly responsible 4 two of TB goals…

    Bay_Bye December 29, 2016 at 8:22 am Reply

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