Saturday, November 12, 2011

Canadiens - Predators: Peter Budaj Leads Habs to Second Straight OT win

With the Nashville Predators playing their 1000th game in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens played the role of party spoilers tonight with a 2-1 overtime victory.

The Canadiens came out of the gates and controlled the played, using their speed to draw penalties. But they fell into their usual trap of indiscipline, taking way too many penalties and handing the momentum to the Preds in the process.

Nashville used a tenacious forecheck to wear down Montreal over the second and third periods, but it was Habs backup netminder, Peter Budaj who was the difference maker.

Max Pacioretty scored the game winner in overtime. The win was Budaj's first in a Habs uniform and Montreal second in a row—both in overtime.

Final score: Habs 2 - Predators 1 (OT)

Game Notes

Josh Gorges is quietly having a phenomenal season - Gorges has always been known as a defensive stalwart but this season, he is putting up points as well.

After tonight's game, he has eight points (1G, 7A) and a team-leading plus-9 rating through 15 games.

His plus-9 puts him in the top-10, league-wide, in that category.

I guess his surgically repaired knee is doing alright.

Perhaps it's time for GM Pierre Gauthier to reconsider how he does things and sign Gorges (and Carey Price and P.K. Subban) before the end of the season. If recent history has shown us anything it's that the "wait till the season is over" strategy has not worked for Montreal.

The big-boys on the PP - I loved seeing Yannick Weber unload a cannon during the Habs first powerplay. But what I loved seeing even more was Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole barreling into Pekka Rinne's crease with a full head of steam.

Rinne bobbled the Weber shot and, while the Canadiens didn't score, it is great to see their two power-forwards charging the blue paint so aggressively and consistently.

What a save! - Starting only his second game of the season, Habs backup netminder, Peter Budaj, looked real good tonight.

His biggest save came near the end of the first period with the Preds on the powerplay. For whatever reason, the Habs lost their minds, defensively, and three players ended up behind the net.

The puck came out front to Ryan Suter who had a clear shot from eight feet out. Budaj calmly came out of his crease to cut down the angle, stoning the Preds star defender in the process.

After the first period, Nashville controlled the pace the rest of the way, creating a ton of dangerous scoring opportunities in the process. Fortunately for Montreal, Budaj was always ready, standing tall at the top of his crease to challenge the shooter.

He finished the game with 25 saves and a .962 save percentage.

What a difference two months of working with goalie coach, Pierre Groulx, has made!

A little defense please - If the Habs special teams woes, which are well documented, weren't bad enough, Montreal is also letting in far too many short-handed goals this season.

Any coach will tell you that one short-handed goal against is one too many, but so far this season, Montreal has let in four.

As Cowhide and Rubber's Kyle Roussel pointed out on Twitter, the Habs allowed six all of last year.


Critical moment - The Preds had a 47 second 5-on-3 powerplay at around the 13 minute mark of the second period. This was only minutes after the Preds had tied the game on a Shea Weber shortie.

The Habs killed off the short-handed situation, preserving the 1-1 tie.

Oh, sure, they kill off the 5-on-3 but allow a goal against while on the powerplay?

Ya, Perry Pearn was surely the problem.

The return of Gomez - Scott Gomez returned to the Habs lineup tonight and there was much rejoicing.

No there wasn't. But he did return and made little to no impact. It's not that he played poorly, just that he didn't really do much.

Except, of course, for missing his assignment—Shea Weber—on the lone Nashville goal.

That aside, Gomez had as many good defensive plays as he did bad turnovers.

He finished the night a minus-1, played 12:06 over 17 shifts and had 2:20 on the powerplay.


Stat of the night - The Preds outhit Montreal 24-9. Moreover, Montreal had only one body check in the first period.

Question of the night - Is David Desharnais better suited to the wing? He gets pushed off the puck far too easily and doesn't have the speed to compensate for his lack of size.

Also, his turnovers and defensive lapses are as numerous as they are brutal. So will he get shifted to the third line wing once Andrei Kostitsyn returns?

Up next - The win moves Montreal to the dizzying heights of oh-wait-they're-still-12th-overall. The Canadiens have the day off tomorrow before taking on the rejuvenated Buffalo Sabres Monday at the Bell Centre.

As much as the two-game winning streak is great—Montreal has won six of their last eight games—they need to get healthy, and fast. Michael Cammalleri doesn't look 100 percent. Brian Gionta either. In addition Andrei Kostitsyn—who was having a great start to the season—has missed the last two games.

With a huge month of November almost half way through, the Habs could use some reinforcements.

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at

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(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)


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