Bulin Wall Rides Again
The high flying Edmonton Oilers were the visiting team in a packed bell Centre and they skated away with a 3-1 victory.
The first period was an even affair with both teams playing well defensively. The shots on goal were 6-4 in favour of the younger Oilers. The passes on both sides were not crisp and precise and the penalties were even at 2 apiece.
The trend in Habs games this year has been to play not to give up the first goal in the first period then start skating in the second. This game continued this trend, with the Habs giving the Oilers all they could handle in the second period.
The re-emergence of Nikolai Khabibulin - the Bulin Wall was once again in evidence in the second when there was a virtual parade to the penalty box for the young Oilers and the Habs could not capitalize on the many chances. The Habs power play once again featured Tomas Plekanec on the point. The Oilers continued to put pressure on him and were rewarded with the best pass of the evening - from Plekanec to Jones who scored on Carey Price through the five-hole. The second wave of the power play did a bit better however they failed to score on the rejuvenated Khabibulin. The shots on goal in the second period were 13 to 4 for Montreal, but on the scoreboard it was 1-0 Oilers.
The third period featured the Habs once again on the attack and Khabibulin just putting up a wall and the young Oiler no name defense corps clearing the pucks from the zone with precision. There was also a fabulous shift from the visitors top line that hemmed the Habs in their zone. The Oilers extended their lead with a point shot that deflected off Weber and Gorges.
To their credit the Habs rebounded a few seconds later on an innocent looking play when Max Pacioretty potted a backhand through the five hole on Khabibulin whom I am sure would like that one back. The Habs pulled Price for a sixth attacker and came close on a couple of occasions only to have a pass from Plekanec picked off and Ryan Smyth scored on an empty net.
This time I believe the Habs played well enough to win however to beat a scorching goalie on a night like this one they would have needed some more creativity, and crisp passes to the players wearing the same jersey colour.
The good news for the Habs is that Emelin played very well after sitting in the pressbox for a number of games - all seven of the Habs defensemen were dressed for this affair. The forward lines were not complete with the fourth line hardly playing at all.
Cole, Cammalleri and Eller were undoubtedly the best forward on the ice on this evening with Cammy playing the best game of the season although he was not rewarded with a goal.
Now the Habs travel to the cold climes of Phoenix where they take on the Coyotes on Thursday...Hopefully there are enough healthy forwards to ice four lines.