MONTREAL – The Habs may have earned a point off the best team in the league on Saturday night, but the focus in the room was on the one that got away.
With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal all healthy and back in the lineup against the Habs for the first time since the 2010 Playoffs, the Canadiens knew they would have their work cut out for them on Saturday night. Despite killing off all three Penguins power plays on the night and giving themselves a 3-1 cushion by the mid-way point, it wasn’t enough to earn the Habs a crucial two points.
“They have a good team and they play well as a team but they also have a lot of skill and a lot of weapons,” described former Pens blue-liner Hal Gill. “I thought we had some players who did a great job against their skill guys and Carey was great for us. It’s too bad we didn’t come out on the other end.”
Losing is never an easy pill to swallow, but for Jacques Martin, it was how his team lost that stung more than anything.
“You all saw the play,” said the Habs head coach, referring to a controversial non-call on Kristopher Letang’s overtime-winning goal. “I’m really disappointed for my players. We just finished playing nine games in 15 days and we were playing against the best team in the league with no injuries. We competed really hard and it’s really disappointing it ended that way.”
No one was more disappointed to see the Penguins skate off with the overtime victory than Carey Price. Despite putting on an All-Star caliber, 38-save performance, the 24-year-old netminder couldn’t hide his frustration after the game.
“I had the...thing covered,” underlined Price. “They didn’t blow the whistle and [the Penguins] poked it out – they rammed it out right from underneath me and put it in the net. That’s how that went down. I clearly had my hand over the puck.
“It’s tough. We slugged it out with the best team in the NHL for 60-plus minutes so we can take that out of it as a positive but it’s really frustrating to lose that way.”
With a combined 19 hits, 23 blocked shots and three goals – including Max Pacioretty’s 10th of the campaign – there were plenty of positives the Canadiens could take from Saturday night’s game. Despite their solid effort, the Habs weren’t ready to look at the silver lining just yet.
“It’s frustrating to lose any way, but I thought it was tied up. He said he didn’t see it. He’s human, I guess,” offered Gill, who tied Josh Gorges with a team-high five blocked shots. “We battled hard all game and for something like that to happen, it doesn’t feel right but that’s life.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
The Numbers Game - Nov. 26, 2011
Peaks and valleys