Leafs, Habs cough up leads; Tavares taunts Flames

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Thursday, Dec. 29 won’t go down as a great night for a trio of Canadian NHL teams. Let’s take a look at the follies of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames.

Habs can’t hold onto 3-1 lead

It’s easy to feel bad for Randy Cunneyworth, but that compassion extends beyond linguistic and cultural concerns. Jacques Martin’s system wasn’t sexy, but it squeezed every drop of quality out of a mediocre roster with stingy defense.

With that in mind, Montreal fans probably haven’t seen their team cough up too many 3-1 leads, as they did tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t even polite enough to give the Habs a charity point:

Maple Leafs botch a 3-1 lead of their own

The Toronto Maple Leafs had to feel pretty good about their chances when Joffrey Lupul staked his team to a 3-1 lead 9:08 into the third period. That seemed to awaken Eric Staal from his near-full season slumber, however, as he scored a goal 40 seconds later, assisted on the tying goal and then hammered home the OT-winner.

So, what’s worse: giving up a 3-1 lead in the second period and getting zero points or failing to hold onto a two-goal lead during the last 11 minutes of a game and settling for a charity point? (I’d go for the latter, even if it might be a little more embarrassing, but feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.)

Tavares torments the Flames

The Calgary Flames probably don’t feel anywhere near the same amount of shame as Montreal or Toronto for their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Still, it was another blown lead (this time just 1-0) and is worth mentioning merely to show this John Tavares highlight:

(Miikka Kiprusoff must feel really alone sometimes, right?)

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It wasn’t all-bad for Canada on Thursday, though. The Canadian WJC team humiliated Denmark 10-1, the Vancouver Canucks are currently pounding the Anaheim Ducks 4-0 and the Winnipeg Jets gutted out a 1-0 OT win against the Los Angeles Kings. Still, the Flames, Leafs and Canadiens might look back at nights like tonight if they fall short of the playoffs this season.