Daniel Briere is one of only 35 players in NHL history to average more than a point per playoff game, entering the Montreal Canadiens’ Game 1 battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night with 109 points in 108 playoff games.
Make that 110 points in 109 games. Briere made the key play in overtime, leading to Dale Weise’s game-winner at 18:08 and the 5-4 victory.
The play was started by Michael Bournival, who forced a pair of turnovers by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas and got the puck deep. Briere fired a shot that was blocked, the puck traveling back to the point where Josh Gorges corralled it. He sent it in back of the net where three Lightning players were defending two Canadiens.
It traveled to Briere, who shook his check by Eric Brewer – who had a terrible night – and sent a pass in front to Weise for the snap-shot that beat a frozen Anders Lindback.
The goat on the play? Rookie Cedric Paquette, who has two regular season games to his credit and was playing in his first playoff game. To his credit, he made an impact all night as a nudge and a physical presence. But rather than stick to Weise, he tried to go after what he thought was going to be a loose puck, and instead left the shooter wide open.
Briere was Paquette’s main target during most of the game.
He got he last laugh.
The goal came moments after Max Pacioretty put a puck off the left post on a 2-on-1 for Montreal. It looked, for a moment, like it was going to be one of those nights. Instead, the Habs go up 1-0 in the best of seven series.
(One other note: Carey Price was one goal away from getting demolished for his performance in Game 1, because the narrative says that Price struggles in the postseason and he gave up 4 goals on 16 shots in regulation. Never mind these came on a collection of defensive gaffes and turnovers in the Montreal defensive zone, of course. Price made several key stops in the OT and comes away with a victory, so hopefully that quells the nonsensical scape-goating that was coming his way. But probably not.)