It's going to be hard to forget this one for the faithful, and for all the wrong reasons. While the Canadiens will come up short 2-1 in the books, nothing can do justice to the gaffe caused by the referees.
The Canadiens were on the receiving end of controversy Saturday night. Lars Eller seemed to have scored th go ahead goal midway through the third period but the call made by the official was reversed upon further review.To make matters worse, a statement was issued by the NHL. This statement failed to identify any rules that were followed and was only able to state that each official agreed the puck never crossed the line. This would not be as hard to swallow if the play was blown dead by an official who clearly indicated by pointing his arm towards the goal to indicate a goal had been scored!
While the "he said, he said" won't do much in this situation it is painful to think the NHL won't stand it's ground on its own guidelines.
The game itself was played as typically as one could expect of a matchup with the Predators. A high caliber defense combined with an exceptional goalie and a less than threatening attack. Most could have anticipated the game would finish with fewer than 4 goals crossing the goal line.
Rinne and Price played outstanding. Neither permitted the puck to get by save for something exceptional as was the beautiful toe drag game winner by rookie sensation Seth Jones.
With 2 minutes left on the clock, the game tied at ones and seeming like the fans would need to stay a little longer. Montreal failed to clear the puck from their zone, most noticeably Travis Moen flailing his stick while lying on the ice, the puck found its way to the stick of Jones, who pulled off a slick toe drag to set up his own wrister that got by Price. Along with the goal was his 27 minute workload that was beaten only by long time captain and all-star Shea Weber, 28 minutes.
It is very possible that the game could have gone out of hand much earlier had the Habs not been able to play such a stellar game short-handed, eventually finishing 5-6 on the PK. Most famously was the referee calling an "embezzlement" penalty against Subban. The Canadiens allowed one goal off of a shot by Weber, that hit 2 Canadiens on the way in. Price should not be faulted at all as it was a shot during the tail-end of an early 5-3 that bounced off of Prust and than Gorges before finding the net.
Brandan Gallagher played his heart out tonight. For a player who does not boast the most size he certainly puts rubber on the net. He may not possess the greatest shot but any great scorer will tell you that the only way to score is to put the puck on net, he had a total of 9 SOG. His goal came as advertised, a scrum in front of the net found its way to the back of the net.
The Canadiens should be commended on their ability to play while fighting off in game injuries. Danny Briere suffered a concussion, Brandon Prust took a fall into the end boards and left favoring his shoulder and Josh Gorges received a hit that delivered contact to both sides of his head. The injury list is starting to pile-up for the Canadiens in this short season and it will be a tough test to see how much they can fight the coming opponents in the Oilers, Sharks and Ducks. The farm in Hamilton will be getting a few calls and the fans will get an opportunity to see some of the Habs pipeline.