Habs fans everywhere are breathing a huge collective sigh of relief after a game that may just wind up being the contest that saved their centennial season.
The Canadiens dominated the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning through much of the game, outshooting them by a 2-1 margin. Their hard work translated into powerplay chances, as the Lightning players found themselves in the sin bin on 8 different occasions. However, Lightning goaltender Karri Ramo was spectacular, turning away shot after shot, keeping his team close. When Guillaume Latendresse scored on a wraparound halfway through the third period it looked like the Habs had the game sewn up. The Montreal faithful at the Bell Centre obviously thought the same as they began their traditional “Ole Ole” chant.
It turned out the celebration was a little premature as Tampa Bay roared back to tie the game 2-2, throwing the arena into stunned silence. The Habs managed to avoid a complete meltdown and hung on to force overtime. Saku Koivu was the hero in the extra frame, shoveling a backhander into the net to give his team the crucial second point.
That extra point was even more key as the Florida Panthers, breathing down Montreal’s neck for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, had earned a hard fought victory over the Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the evening. With the win Montreal stays 2 points ahead of the Panthers with the Habs also possessing a game in hand.
With back to back wins perhaps the Habs can regain some of their tattered confidence. They are going to need to make some hay in the next few games as they close out their season with tough games against 4 hot teams in the Senators, Rangers, Bruins and Penguins.