Whitby - December 7, 2011 - What is the net result when the NHL’s worst road team plays in the barn of the NHL’s worst home team? Well, the NHL’s worst home team gets even worse. The Montreal Canadiens didn’t deserve it, but they managed to salvage one point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday evening. Rick Nash scored the lone shootout goal to give the Blue Jackets the win.
Les Bleu-Blanc-Rouge playing its first home game since returning from a three-game Western road trip early on Sunday, came out flat and were definitely not mentally ready to compete against the Blue Jackets. Canadiens Head Coach Jacques Martin quipped “the way we played tonight is not the way to win games, there was way too much individual play, way too many turnovers, no support for the puck carrier. We weren’t on the same page at all.”
As a result of Montreal starting the contest with little offence and next-to-no-inspiration, Jackets’ forward Vinny Prospal opened the scoring at 2:03 of the first period. Canadiens’ own Michael Cammalleri showed great hand-eye coordination by knocking down a James Wisniewski clearing attempt in the final seconds of period one and then slid the puck over to Andrei Kostitsyn who then buried it behind Jackets netminder Curtis Sanford to tie the game at one.
The teams would exchange goals in the final 40 minutes to send the contest into overtime. Carey Price was one of the few bright spots for a Canadiens’ squad that now sports a 11-11-6 record. Price stopped 26 of 28 (.929 save percentage) Columbus’ shots on goal and suffered the loss. Columbus’ Sanford only needed to stop 18 of 20 (.900 save percentage) Montreal shots to record the victory.
The announced three stars of the game were Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn (3rd star, one goal, one shot on goal), Columbus’ R.J. Umberger (2nd star, one goal, one assist, four shots on goal) and Rick Nash (1st star, shootout goal, seven shots on goal) before 21,273 spectators at the Bell Centre.
For a complete statistical breakdown and game summary, please click onto the NHL.com Boxscore:
View From the Whitby Cheap Seats
For those of you who have read my game summaries and opinion pieces on the Canadiens in the past, know I have been extra tough on the Canadiens’ captain, Brian Gionta for the better part of this 2011-12 NHL regular season for not displaying leadership on a team that sorely needed it.
After tonight’s contest versus Columbus, I need to give Gionta his due. ”Tough” really does come in different-sized packages and the Habs’ captain is a perfect example of ”tough”. Other than for Dean Youngblood (1986 movie “Youngblood” starring Rob Lowe), how many individuals can take a direct skate blade to the chops, get stitched up, get back into the game and score the game-tying goal in the final two minutes of the contest?
Not too many individuals, I would hazard a guess. Recently, Gionta has begun to elevate his level of play and lead by example - just like any good captain should do - just as he showed on Tuesday evening. There were few bright spots in this contest and Gionta was definitely one of them.
The Russian ThunderBolt
Alexei Emelin was at it again on Tuesday evening. The Russian ThunderBolt delivered nine solid hits to various Blue Jackets. This kid is turning out to be one of my favourite Canadiens to watch game-in-game-out.
A round of applause goes out to young Emelin for recording his first NHL career assist on Brian Gionta’s game-tying goal.
Next up for the Canadiens is a Thursday evening matchup against the Sedins and the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre. Let us hope the Canadiens’ can wake up, find some much need inspiration, motivation and drive because they are going to need it in order to compete against a high-scoring club like Vancouver.
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last...