An overtime rocket from PK Subban ensured the Montreal Canandiens a place in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The power play goal sealed a 2-1 victory over the desperate Chicago Blackhawks, putting an end to a frantic duel between the two sides’ goaltenders. Carey Price made a whopping 42 saves to deny the Hawks the win, while Corey Crawford saved the puck on 33 occasions.
“I was happy to get that one for Pricey, he works so hard for us every day and the saves that he was making down the stretch – he deserved the two points today,” Subban said after the game.
“He’s a guy that’s been taking a lot of scrutiny from people in the media and the work ethic he brings to the rink every day goes unnoticed,” Subban addedd about Scott Gomez. “But I think today a lot of people saw what he brings to our team, getting to pucks first and creating offense of his own. I mean when he’s going, our team’s going so the vets really stepped up for us today and set the tone.”
More important for the Canadiens than Subban’s winner and Price’s stops were the performances of Gomez, Brian Gionta, Andrei Kostitsyn and, most notably, Mike Cammalleri.
Cammalleri opened things up after his perfect shot beat Crawford going in off the iron was one of several good looks for the sniper. His confidence is growing as the post-season approaches, and the Canadiens could really use his presence in the lineup.
Gionta and Gomez were connecting like the good old days. It’s taken the duo quite some time to find their magic, but it may be coming together justin time. Gionta could have had a couple of goals; as could Gomez, who has only found the net seven times this season.
Both Gomez and Gionta failed to register a point against the stubborn Crawford, but it was their effort that will be noticed, as will Kostitsyn’s work-ethic, whose delightful pass found Cammalleri for the opener.
Crawford stopped Cammalleri on several occasions with some brilliant and confident saves in his first game back in his home town. Crawford, started his career with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL, and showed no signs of nerves in one of the Hawks biggest games of the season.
Despite Cammalleri’s goal early in the second period, the Blackhawks struck back little more than three minutes later when Patrick Kane turned past Mathieu Darche before hitting a perfect shot past Price to tie things up.
It looked as if a scoring rout was on the cards with both teams breaking quickly and creating good scoring opportunities. However, both Price and Crawford were stellar and kept the game tied at 1-1 heading into overtime.
In OT, the Habs were given a huge opportunity when Hawks captain Jonathan Toews went to the box for hooking Subban. On that opportunity Kostitsyn sent a hard pass across the ice to Subban, and the rookie defenseman let rip with a perfect one-timer which sailed past the helpless Crawford.
Looking at the bigger picture, the Habs should feel confident about holding onto sixth place in the East, thus, most likely, setting up a first round matchup with the Boston Bruins.
The Canadiens hit the road with games in Ottawa and Toronto for their final two games of the 2010-11 regular season.