Well, here we go ... into the "do-or-die" weekender featuring back-to-back games versus opponents the Habs are desperately trying to track down for that final playoff berth.
As of this afternoon, it appears that Budaj will get the start tonight, a not altogether surprise in light of Price's so-so game against the Caps.
Budaj lost the only game he every played in Pittsburgh while he played for Colorado (4-1 ... two were empty netters).
- Never hurts to get off to a fast start, with a little luck thrown in. 1-0.
- Pacioretty in a fight. Did well, but he does have a previously injured hand. Not exactly a smart move.
- Comedy of errors ties the game. First Plekanec falls on his behind (perhaps slightly interfered?), Campoli forgets to cover his goal, and Budaj badly misplays a rather harmless backhander by Letang.
- And right after Letang's goal, following a turnover in the neutral zone, Cole cashes in a easy one past Fleury off a rebound. Pens D is *really* soft. 2-1
- PP goes to work. Let's see if they're just as bad as Washington.
- Yup. Just as bad. Pens could have killed that blindfolded.
- That said, Pens' offense has really stumbled out of the gate. Almost no scoring chances, save the gift goal provided earlier.
- Plekanec *another* shorthanded break, outstanding play by Letang who dives at the last moment to knock the puck away.
- Budaj ain't exactly brimming with confidence tonight, really fighting to find the puck around his crease.
- Subban poor puck control at the line gives Pens a 3-on-1, Budaj a sparkling glove save on Adams. Didn't I just post he was fighting the puck? #wrongagain
- I could be wrong, but this Pens team looks nothing like the Pens that dominated the Habs 4-1 earlier this season. Offense not nearly as coordinated, defense seemingly soft as a Teddy bear. But there's plenty of hockey left to play.
- Plexiglass slab just fell out, nearly on top of the ref. Cue 10 minute delay.
- Desperate times. Plekanec now playing blue line on the powerplay again. Hey, if it didn't work before surely it'll suddenly start working now, right?
- Pens outshot Habs 10-6, but that total not nearly representing the balance of play.
- Even though he scored the game's first goal, Eller just 4 shifts, barely 2 1/2 minutes of time in the first. For whatever reason, welcome to the doghouse Lars.
- Wow. Did the Habs just score a powerplay goal?
- Pacioretty just went to he dressing room. So is it his hand?
- Patches back on the bench. Doesn't exactly look comfortable.
- Yet more evidence that Habs would just do best to decline the penalty. Subban with an unconsciously lazy turnover via a unnecessary blind pass in his own zone and the Pens score shorthanded. /headslap
- If I'm Cunneyworth, I staple Subban to the bench for that play alone.
- Subban getting reamed out by Ladouceur on the bench. That's appropriate - making players accountable for making mistakes that ought never be made at the NHL level.
- Pens offense shifting to a higher gear since that shorthanded goal, Budaj getting pelted. Just. Decline. The. Penalty.
- Darche saves a goal with a tremendous back check on Jeffrey one way, Cole sets up Pacioretty for a pretty goal the other. Hockey is funny that way. 4-2 Habs.
- Habs obviously trying to follow the Caps model for victory. Four goals on just 8 shots so far.
- Somebody's listening. Subban no shifts so far since that gaffe.
- Subban just sent on the ice.
- Kostitsyn a pretty/determined pass to Cole who had Fleury dead to rights, but misses the gaping net with a backhander. Visibly reacts "how the heck did I miss that?"
- Kostitsyn/Cole clicking tonight, tossup for who's played a stronger game. They've both been very good, very aggressive on the puck.
- Pens turn over, Moen a beautiful pass to Plekanec who deflects it off the crossbar. Three goal lead headed to the 3rd woulda been nice.
- Plekanec workhorse 14 minutes through 40 minutes, Eller just 6.
- See, that's why you want that three goal lead. Campoli with a half-hearted clearance attempt that's easily intercepted, and Jeffrey with a wrister that Budaj probably should have stopped. 4-3.
- Habs in trap mode. But there's still 10 minutes left. #thiswonthold
- 8 minutes left. No way they can ride this out. Nonetheless, here we go.
- Cole takes arguable interference call. Here we go.
- Pens blow it. Kunitz with a terribly dumb penalty, hitting Gorges late along the boards. Gorges slow to get up.
- Neal another long distance wrist shot that Budaj just barely saves. 5 agonizingly long minutes left.
- This game is bringing back memories of the Habs fabled run to the Eastern Finals. Just. Barely. Hanging. On.
- And there it is. Sigh.
- Not going to rub it in and say that saw that coming a mile away, but really, you can't go into prevent mode with 10 minutes left. It is just not going to work.
- So yeah. That was an interesting little experiment, but Carey Price tomorrow night.
- 14-6 SOG in that period. It looked more like 34-6.
- The Canadiens' nemesis this year, among many. Playing extra time.
- Since the Pens are a team the Habs are attempting to catch, giving up that late goal also automatically surrendered a point in the standings, no matter what.
- Emelin with a clinic on how to correctly play against the 2-on-1. Hans have nothing going offensively so far.
- Eller, who's had the benefit of barely playing tongiht, figures 'I might as well do this all by myself'. And nearly does. Pens call time.
- Neal doesn't forget. Tried a wrist shot on Budaj from 30 feet. Fortunately blocked.
- Shootout. Oh well. At least it isn't Price in goal. #grabbingatstraws.
- I just can't look. Dread filling my body.
- Scott Gomez is one of the three?? Really?
- Budaj really looked good first shot.
- Malkin shows us how it's done.
- Kostitsyn breaks his stick on his shot. Oh man.
- Gomez to keep them in it. Oh man.
- And Gomez, why he was chosen I'll never know, can't score. And the Habs drop to 1-7 in shootouts. Wow. Just wow.