Final Score: Montreal 5 - Tampa Bay 2
Goal scorers: Lapierre, Latendresse, Kovalev, Markov, A. Kostitsyn
All the talk before this one got started was about Carbonneau's decision to juggle his lines. He went with all new lines (with the exception of the Kovalev-Plekanec-A. Kost. line), including re-uniting Latendresse with the player he plays best with, Saku Koivu. The moves, although questionned by many fans before the game, paid off in spades. The Habs struck early and often, while the Lightning responded late and infrequently.
Montreal were able to score 5 straight, before eventually allowing two third period goals in the 5-2 win. Despite having a strong start to his career, having Kyle Chipchura sit this one out seemed to be the right move, as the Habs got some more crucial points on this holiday road-trip, which now has 2 of 6 total games left on it.
This game was high octane from the get go. We saw great chances, plenty of hits, some tempers were flaring (ask Andre Roy, who was given a 10-minute misconduct after a verbal assault with the Habs' bench led to him smacking his stick on the boards while he was on his own bench), and we got to see the rare "goaltending carousel", as Holmqvist started, got yanked after allowing 3 in place of Ramo, and then got re-inserted with 13 minutes remaining. Honestly, I REALLY get a kick out of seeing Tortorella trying to not completely lose it and start beating up his goalies...it gives me so much pleasure! If it were legal, he would likely take a bat to Holmqvist's legs, arms and head, and would probably have already decapitated Denis. Ramo must be horrified...he better produce in the crease, before those violent emotions overcome Tortorella...
The Habs' only allowed one powerplay opportunity for the Bolts to feed on, and feed on they didn't. Keeping Lecavalier, St.Louis, Richards and Prospal off the ice in a man-advantage situation can be the X factor in defeating the Lightning, and it was proof on this night. Lightning forwards St.Louis, Richards and Lecavalier were all held off the statsheet, another crucial element which can determine the winner in a match with Tampa. We also had the rare privilege of seeing Vincent Lecavalier log less than 20 minutes of ice time (18:30), which was less than Richards, Prospal and St.Louis, who all had over 20.
Sergei Kostitsyn (actually spelled KASTSITSYN, SIARHEI in his native Belarus) extended his points streak to 4 games. He now has 5 points (1-4) in 7 career NHL games. The kid is making a case to stick around with big brother Andrei in the big leagues. Cristobal Huet was able to bounce back from a sub-par performance, as expected. He stopped 28 of 30, and to his credit, the Lightning's last goal with 16 seconds to go was the result of an extremely sloppy, botched clearance attempt courtesy of Tom Kostopoulos. This game also featured a couple of scraps, as Tom Kostopoulos and, most surprising of all, Josh Gorges, dropped the gloves and engaged in fisticuffs (love that word). The Habs got nitty and gritty in Tampa, now if ONLY they can play the same way against a more steadily defensive Florida Panthers team tomorrow night, they just might be able to BEAT them, for once.
Florida is the only team in the NHL in which the Canadiens have a lower-than-.500 record against in their history.