MONTREAL – The Canadiens and Penguins put on an offensive clinic at the Bell Centre on Saturday night, combining for a number of goals rarely seen in the NHL outside an All-Star Game.
The Habs-Pens tilt had a little bit of everything: special teams battles, epic comebacks, net crashing and last second heroics, proving there’s nothing more fun to watch than a back-and-forth barnburner …unless you’re behind the losing bench.
“Crazy game, eh,” offered Michel Therrien, shaking his head following the 7-6 overtime loss to his former team. “It’s definitely exciting for the fans – but that’s one of the reasons we start seeing coaches with grey hair. I had so many feelings tonight, you don’t even know. Same as you guys, probably.
“There were times when it was like, ‘Ok, we’re back in the game’ then 10 minutes after, it was like, ‘Oh no, what are we doing?’ There’s not much to say about tonight’s game besides that it was exciting for the fans,” continued the Habs head coach, who faced the Penguins on Saturday for the first time since leaving Pittsburgh in 2009. “Right from the start, we weren’t sharp mentally and we were losing pucks in places we’re not supposed to be losing pucks. We found a way to get a point and to find our way back into the game. That’s the positive.”
After falling behind 4-2 mid-way through the second period, the Canadiens rallied back, with P.K. Subban scoring the equalizer in dramatic fashion with just 0.7 seconds left in the frame. The Habs and Pens continued trading goals all night, keeping the crowd on its collective toes as the Canadiens went on to collect a point in a 10th consecutive game.
“You’ll take the point no matter what; it’s just not the way we wanted to play,” explained Brian Gionta, who scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season against Pittsburgh. “It’s tough to win games in this league when you’re not playing the right way, especially against teams like that who are so offensively gifted.”
Despite their best efforts, the Canadiens couldn’t keep the league’s second-most potent offense at bay, with Kris Letang picking up four assists and Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each walking away with three points of their own own.
“We had spurts of things where we were going and then other parts where we just weren’t moving our feet,” admitted Gionta. “It was a back and forth game, mistake after mistake. It’s a game that could’ve gotten us back into first place against a team that’s ahead of us. We were flat at times and it ended up hurting us.”
After scoring just one goal on 45 shots on Monday in Ottawa, the Canadiens have improved their shooting percentage in the past two games, scoring a combined 11 goals on 79 shots against the Leafs and Penguins.
“It’s a good thing we scored that many goals, but when you score that much, you’re supposed to win,” stressed David Desharnais, who now has three points in the last two games. “Once you start playing like that, it’s exciting to watch. Everyone’s scoring, everyone’s getting chances and it’s back and forth.
“But that’s not what we want to do,” he continued. “As players, we don’t want too many of those during the year. It was run and gun, not a lot of defense. To win we have to play our game, and that wasn’t our game.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
Game Highlights: Canadiens-Penguins
The Numbers Game - March 2, 2013
A special occasion