Smart, passionate and somewhat biased commentary about the Montreal Canadiens (HABS) from a lifelong fan now living in Toronto (LeafLand).

The Goal That Saved The Season!?

Ay-yoy it was an eventful day yesterday for Montreal Canadiens fans, as well as the team and organization itself.

First, we heard conflicting reports about Max Pacioretty’s wrist injury from the previous game. He may require surgery. No he doesn’t need surgery. He’s for sure not playing against the Flyers. No, he’ll be a game-time decision.

Well as it turns out, he did play — thank goodness for that. Ended up, he was key to the Habs’ 5-1 win last night against the Philadelphia Flyers in Montreal last night.

Yannick Weber et al celebrate his goal with 2.6 seconds on the clock to end the first period last night. Was this the moment where we’ll look back and say, this is where the Habs got their collective mojos back!? (Photo: AP).

MaxPac had his first 3 point night in the bigs, is now averaging a point a game so far this season, and although we know the guy has a great wrister, his two goals were of the dirty variety.

About 90 minutes out from gametime, the team announced that one coaching head did roll, but it wasn’t like we thought (and maybe hoped). Perry Pearn, a long-time friend and colleague of Jacques Martin, whose main responsibilities were the powerplay and the defense, was sent packing by GM Pierre Gauthier.

Message to the team? Message to Jacques Martin? Tease as to what’s to come if things don’t change? I guess we’ll have to see.

The panel on TSN last night (which included Marc Crawford btw) was unanimous in labelling Pearn a “sacrificial lamb” and that the intent of his firing was to light a fire under the players and coaching staff alike. Bob McKenzie even went so far as to say he found the timing “puzzling.” What does it accomplish? Especially since the Habs have almost all of the coming week off, that might have been a better time to make such a move. But there may still be more moves coming…

Then again, fans and writers alike were calling for something to be done right away. So we got something alright.

So even with all the pregame drama, it was the Flyers who came out like a house on fire, completely dominating the Canadiens and taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Hab-not and Plekanec buddy Jaromir Jagr.
In fact, the Habs were so flat, they didn’t have a 5-on-5 offensive shot on goal all period…and didn’t have a shot for a span of 15 minutes.
But then…

But then with just under a minute and a half left in the period, the much maligned Erik (I’m being used the wrong way by Jacques Martin) Cole used his speed and power to create an interference penalty on the Flyers. And with 3 seconds left on the clock, Yannick Weber drilled a one-timer past Flyer goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to tie the game at 1.

It was a big moment.

It was if the Habs — to a man — had that mighty heavy weight suddenly lifted from their shoulders.

It was if they were free.
Because come the second period, they looked like a transformed team. They came out flying. They supported eachother. They went hard to the net. They did the right things. AND for a change, they had some bounces go their way. Like on Andrei Kostitsyn’s 3rd of the season, where the puck caromed off of his leg and into the net.

It was the game winner.
And when Kostitsyn scores a dirty goal like that, you know things are going Montreal’s way. It’s also going their way when SOMEONE ELSE misses an open net, that someone being Wayne Simmonds who had a gaping wide net only to put it off the post. Kostitsyn’s strike came soon after.

Later down in the defensive zone, Carey Price made a terrific pad save and then a short while later, the puck bounced right to Pacioretty who put it home to make it 3-1. And the team never looked back.

Price got rid of the pink pads, made all the key saves when he had to (like the breakaway by vanRiemsdyk to open the 3rd period) and finally picked up his 100th win in the NHL. MaxPac showed why if he were in the lineup, the Habs would have beaten the Bruins last spring and why he’s so important to this team. Erik Cole showed the kind of hustle that makes him the kind of player the Habs need and why Gauthier signed him in the first place. There were other strong performances. If Lars Eller were more of a goal scorer, he could have easily had 2.

So will we look back at Yannick Weber’s powerplay goal with 3 seconds left in the 1st period in this game against the Flyers on October 26, 2011 as the moment where it all turned around????

It’s just one game. One win. But you never know…

Hey if the Habs win the next 9 games in a row, this will all have seemed like some weird dream. Just like when Pamela woke up to see Bobby showering in that infamous “Dallas” episode :)

At least the team has some confidence going into their home-and home series against Boston that begins tonight. And everyone can focus on that instead of who is going to replace Martin as head coach.

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