MONTREAL -- The Stanley Cup used to be like a plague of locusts in Montreal. You could count on having one at least every seven years. Let's see, 1946, 1953, 1960 ... 1979, 1986, 1993 -- well, you do the math. After that last Cup in '93, thanks to goalie
Now a new decade has begun, and the Canadiens are no closer to what they claim is their birthright. While the other two dynasties of the old-guy trinity, the New York Yankees and Boston Celtics, oblige us with championships often enough to echo their golden ages and burnish their reputations, Montreal has settled into a rut that is not even close to being championship-worthy.
The Canadiens now cling to the 2010 playoffs by their fingertips, trailing three games to one against the dynamic Washington Capitals, who are an unlikely candidate to cough up the next three matches of the series -- two of them at home. Although they were hardly convincing, especially in a second period when Montreal whipped 21 shots at goalie
For Washington, that made it a scary 17 goals in three games.
Price called the first lapse "frustration. Not a good move, but, you know, let them know that you're there."
Apparently Price has watched
Next game, somebody better check him for foil.
Neither is squandering a match, the second loss in the series that qualifies as a definite coulda and maybe a shoulda for Montreal. The Canadiens had taken a 2-1 lead on a late second-period power play, were doubling the Capitals in shots and forcing Varlamov to snatch pucks out of the air like a magician at a kid's birthday party.
But the Canadiens, who had the NHL's second-best power play, couldn't put their foot down with the man-advantage. Indeed in the final seconds, Capitals defenseman
"Varly was great," Boudreau said. "They had so many quality chances in that period. If he weren't on top of his game, it could have been 4-1. When you get outplayed as bad as we were, when you go into your dressing room after that goal, it's a great relief to know you have to play only a good 20 minutes. For those 20, they blitzed us. Their forwards have the speed to do it. But if we could muster up a great period ..."
And so they did, with Semin outworking
"I thought this was a game we could have won," Price said. "We played very well tonight. I thought we carried the play for the most part. We were that close."
Now Montreal is hopelessly distant. Again.