Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs @ Air Canada Centre
The final game for the both of these teams. The Habs look to lock up the 6th place in the Eastern conference and the Leafs look to end the season on a good note and a preview of the future of the franchise. And what a way to end the season than with an eternal rivarly?
The Canadiens were the first to strike with a goal from Ryan White. A hard battle down in the corner from Lars Eller and Tom Pyatt paid off for the Habs as White's shot just wiffed past Dion Phaneuf and in behind James Reimer. But the first half of the period was not done for White. White dropped the gloves with Mike Brown nearly 2.5 minutes after his goal. A Gordie Howe hat-trick anyone?
Electrified by the fight, Montreal responds the right way with a quick PPG from Brian Gionta at 6:12. Scott Gomez's not-so-hot season could be forgotten if he keeps feeding his captain like that and setting up the goals.
Toronto eventually gets on the board with a shot from Phil Kessel going between Carey Price's glove and leg. And Joe Colborne gets his first NHL point in his first NHL game.
Montreal gain back their two-goal lead as Brian Gionta netted his second of the game in the late minutes of the second period on the PP. This was exactly what Montreal needed to end the season on. A good game and a good game from their players will give the team and their leaders the jumpstart they wanted and the confidence they wanted their players to gain going into the post-season.
After some big saves from Carey Price, the Habs add to their lead and make it 4-1 with a SHG from Tomas Plekanec, just 9 seconds after Benoit Pouliot headed into the box for his hooking penalty. And then the Spanish chant errupted around the ACC.
Despite the score, Toronto didn't play a horrible game. The Buds had some solid goaltending, got their share of good shots, and the speical weren't the worst. Where there could be some improvement is in the defensive zone. Toronto was beat defensively instead of offensively. I can say this; the future of the Toronto franchise looks good. As long as their players keep competing and keep improving in every aspect then the future is bright and I don't think they'll miss the playoffs for much longer. Some good deals in the defence should be reached over the off-season, but things aren't looking too shabby. (Maybe a coaching change... I didn't speculate anything!)
What do I like about the Canadiens after this game and heading into the post-season? Carey Price won't be rusty going in. He'll get 4-5 day rest before the playoffs start and should be in good condition going in. He's also been amazing the past few games. It takes a real good goaltender to make those spectacular saves look routine; it also take a real good goaltender to not have to make neck-breaking saves. The players have confidence. Certain players that many needed to see a spark in got a little ignition in them and the win should give the entire team a boost. The Habs also look composed. No stupid penalties were taken, there weren't any ghastly turnovers/passes that led to the Habs down some goals. And the defence is looking good. Even without Hal Gill in the line-up tonight, it was calm in the back-end.
But... OLÉ, OLÉ, OLÉ, OLÉ, OLÉ~ OLÉ! OLÉ!
(1) Brian Gionta
(2) Phil Kessel
(3) Carey Price