Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
March 22 2014 07:49PM
This was a weird game, to say the least. I'm not even sure if I'm comfortable with saying that a team won this game; rather, one where one lost less than the other. The two teams took turns waking up, falling asleep, and going back to step one. In this case, the Leafs were a little bit better at messing up, and the Habs took home two regulation points.
The Habs opened the scoring just five minutes into the game, with Max Pacioretty firing a one timer from the a little back top of the faceoff circle. He wasn't really covered, but at the same time, it's not an opportunity where one would expect him to be. It's not the most lethal area in the world, and there wasn't traffic in front. You do hope they'd watch out for guys who could be sprung for breakaways, however, and that wasn't the case a minute later, as Rene Bourque set off and fired a snapshot from almost the exact same area.
The Leafs needed to turn things around fast, and a David Desharnais penalty gave them some time to regroup. There wasn't any success on the powerplay, but Joffrey Lupul found a way to creep his way into a slightly closer area than his opponents and blast a Mason Raymond pass into the back of the net. With two minutes to go, Tyler Bozak was the recipient of a stellar individual effort by Phil Kessel, and the game was tied. However, with fifty seconds to go, a Bourque shot went off of Brian Gionta, off of Tim Gleason, and into the back of the net to put the Habs back up by one.
Not much happened in the second period. The two teams had their moments, but nobody scored or even took a penalty. Two minutes into the third period, Nazem Kadri equalized the game with a close range, unobstructed tap in, and we had a hockey game once again. But with nine minutes to go, Tomas Plekanec was left alone in the corner, for a seemingly risk-free shot. However, it trickled through number 34's body and into the net, leaving the Leafs to trail once again. The Leafs tried their hardest to tie the game for a third time, but this time, the Habs held them at bay.
Why The Leafs Lost
I'm not going to say that James Reimer is singlehandedly responsible for the Leafs losing this game. He's not. They gave up a bunch of shots, made a bunch of mistakes, and had a sloppy night overall. But so did the Habs, and the first, second, and especially the fourth goal all looked like ones that he "could have had".
I thought that Jake Gardiner had another solid outing. Didn't get any points, but made a bunch of smart plays, helped the team play some of their best hockey of the night while he was on the ice, threw some hits, and took some shots. He had a couple iffy moments (the too many men mistake required more communication between himself and Morgan Rielly, no doubt), but it was a solid game overall on his part, and I haven't given him enough credit for the last couple of efforts.
Also, I guess if we're going to be a bit more literal about this "warrior" thing, David Bolland just came back from a long term injury, and that's worth some credit. It's going to be interesting how he plays moving forward.