Habs vs Preds: Rinne outduels Price in OT thriller
By Mitch Melnick
TSN 690 and MitchMelnick.com
On a night in which Carey Price and Pekka Rinne squared off in a head-to-head battle of the league's top two netminders, it was rookie Filip Forsberg who stole the spotlight with the overtime winner, in the Nashville Predators 3-2 come from behind victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal - March 25, 2015 - I thought the Habs were headed for victory. They normally win the take-a-one-goal-lead-into-the-third-period games.
But the man who will finish second in the Vezina Trophy race got his game together in time and gave his team a chance to win. We've seen that act quite a bit this season. As good as Nashville's season has been they seem a little off. I don't think they can win a First Round playoff series against say, Chicago.
And the Canadiens? Odds are still fairly strong they won't finish atop the Eastern Conference standings. But by earning a point they became the first team - in either conference - to reach 100 points.
What were they saying about "unsustainable"?
Brendan Gallagher. The only member of the Habs to take advantage of several Pekka Rinne rebounds, especially in the first 40 minutes. Led all forwards in the game with 5 shots on goal. Has scored in three straight games. He's having a terrific season. But he can't draw a penalty.
P.A. Parenteau. Celebrated his 32nd birthday by playing his best game of the season. He was light on his skates all night - first time he's looked this strong since the first month of the season. Won a puck battle with Shea Weber to set up the Habs second goal. 4 points in his last 6 games.
Carey Price. Mediocre by his standards this season. But he had no chance on the game winner. Not much chance on the game tying bounce off Jeff Petry. And the first goal of the game by defenseman Mattias Ekholm was the result of a terrible giveaway followed by a breakaway. Price's latest shutout streak was snapped at 166 minutes and 13 seconds.
Andrei Markov. Best Habs defenseman. Should have been on the ice for the Predators power play in overtime. He had just finished a shift with his partner who was penalized? That's what time outs are for.
Greg Pateryn and Nathan Beaulieu. For two guys who've played chunks of the year in the American Hockey League they sure looked good as a pair, especially considering the circumstance - on the road, against one of the better offensive teams in the league and this deep into the NHL season. Pateryn in particular looked like a seasoned vet.
David Desharnais. Couldn't pass up a shooting opportunity when he found himself alone in front of Rinne following a great pass from Parenteau. Just his 3rd goal on the road this season.
Torrey Mitchell. Returned to the line up for the first time in 10 days and looked ok. The only Montreal C to have a good night in the face off circle at 68%. But his line mates - Dale Weise and Brandon Prust - who looked so good playing alongside Manny Malhotra, were a non-factor (zero shots on goal).
Max Pacioretty. Does he have to score for the Canadiens to win? This is pretty good too.
P.K. Subban. He didn't play a bad game. But the game effectively ended about a minute into overtime when Subban lost control of the puck at the Nashville blue line (after trying to do too much) and upended Filip Forsberg to take his second penalty of the night. And he was in the penalty box when Forsberg (Martin Erat???) scored the game winner. Earlier in the game during the Habs only power play (which looked good) Subban manoeuvered himself into the slot but got caught between thinking pass or shoot. By the time he slid the puck over to a previously wide open Pacioretty it was too late.
Tomas Plekanec. Who was that wearing number 14? His inexplicable giveaway led directly to the opening goal, just moments after he failed to bury two chances in tight. In the second period, following a pinch by Markov, Plekanec badly missed his man along the boards leading to a three on one which Mike Fisher couldn't finish off even though Fisher stared at an open net. Seven minutes into the third period Plekanec was again stopped from in close by Rinne. A few seconds later Nashville tied the game. And he had the best view of the game winning goal, arriving a little too late to deflect the puck away from Forsberg. One other thing - Plekanec was brutal on the draw winning just 4 of 17 face offs (24%) (Lars Eller was even worse - winning 2 of 12 or 17%).
Devante Smith-Pelly. While Jiri Sekac hasn't exactly ripped it up in Anaheim - one goal & four assists in 13 games (played a season low 6:33 in the Ducks loss to Columbus) that's still a goal and three assists more than Pelly-Smith has for Montreal since the pre-deadline swap. I know he's a different player, but still. He's getting regular minutes as a member of the third line. It doesn't appear he's even close to putting the puck in the net. He had the game winner on his stick with about a minute and half to play and he fell - with nobody around him. His goalless drought has reached 24 games. Since beginning the season with 3 goals in his first 10 games, Smith-Pelly has scored just two goals in 58 games. Is Michel Therrien force feeding him ice time to get him into shape for the playoffs?
Alexei Emelin. Does Emelin know who Mike Ribeiro is?
Mike Fisher Backslides into Carey Price. Price goes tumbling down. No call. And no response. Almost as much as the Habs need a legit #1 centerman in the mold of Vincent Damphousse, they could use the kind of defenseman they haven't had since the same era.
Mitch Melnick is the host of Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 690 - Montreal's Sports Authority. Mitch also has his own website at MitchMelnick.com where you can find his blog, music links, upcoming events, neat photos and more. Listen Live to Melnick - weekdays from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. If you have questions or wish to contact Mitch, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org