Friday, December 19, 2008

Canadiens Cool Streaking Flyers With 5-2 Win

MONTREAL (AP) -Alex Kovalev is hitting heights that are surprising him. Getting there after the worst scoring slump of his career has made it that much sweeter.

Kovalev scored a goal to reach 900 NHL points, and Sergei Kostitsyn and Steve Begin each had a goal and an assist to help the Montreal Canadiens end Philadelphia's five-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory over the Flyers on Thursday night.

The Russian right winger scored for the second game in a row. He ended his 19-game goal drought Tuesday night in Montreal's 3-2 loss in Carolina.

"I scored that first goal and now I've got 900 points," said Kovalev, who is wearing the captain's "C" while Saku Koivu is sidelined. "I can't even think about it. It's hard to really imagine that I've been in the league 16 years and I've got 900 points. It probably takes a couple of days to really realize it."

Matt D'Agostini, Kostitsyn and Begin scored in the opening period for the Canadiens, who ended a three-game losing streak. Guillaume Latendresse also scored for the second game in a row on a power play late in the third.

Jaroslav Halak made his fifth straight start for Montreal and stopped 30 shots.

Arron Asham scored in the first period and assisted on Braydon Coburn's goal in the third for Philadelphia, which had not lost in regulation in seven games (6-0-1).

"You can't win them all," Flyers center Jeff Carter said. "We got off to a slow start, but we picked it up there as the game rolled on and we got some chances. We were shooting high and wide a lot, and their goalie played well. That's about it."

Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek returned to the lineup and assisted on Kovalev's goal after missing 16 games because of a shoulder injury.

"There's no feeling like being on the ice and getting in the mix of things and stirring things up a little," said Komisarek, who dressed in street clothes and assisted the coaching staff through the first four games of Montreal's recent seven-game homestand.

There were more injury woes for the Canadiens, though. Left winger Andrei Kostitsyn missed a couple of shifts in the second period and didn't come out for the third. He was diagnosed with an undisclosed lower body injury that will be re-evaluated by the team's medical staff on Friday.

D'Agostini opened the scoring with his fifth goal 6 minutes in.

The rookie forward got behind defenseman Matt Carle and received Maxim Lapierre's long cross-ice pass from the Canadiens' zone. He drove the left side before cutting toward the net and beating Antero Niittymaki with a quick shot for his fifth goal in nine games.

"That was a good one," D'Agostini said of Lapierre's pass. "I just busted wide. I yelled for it and he saucered that one perfectly."

Kostitsyn made it a two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 10:33 when he took Robert Lang's return pass and one-timed a slap shot past Niittymaki from the left point.

Kostitsyn got his second straight point with an assist on a goal by Begin, who increased Montreal's lead to 3-0. He deflected Tom Kostopoulos' shot from the right side for his fifth of the season at 15:26.

"When I saw the puck there and T.K. going to get it, I just skated for him to shoot at an angle and he put it right on my stick, so it was an easy goal for me," Begin said.

Asham scored 32 seconds later to draw Philadelphia to 3-1.

D'Agostini hit the right post when he shot off a turnover in the Flyers' zone early in the second.

Kovalev restored the Canadiens' three-goal margin at 6:20 when he drove in on a breakaway and put a low shot past Niittymaki inside the right post.

Coburn scored his third goal 13:28 into the third to draw Philadelphia to 4-2.

Latendresse scored for the second game in a row on a power play at 18:57.

Montreal played the first of three straight home games. The Canadiens are on a 5-2-1 run at the Bell Centre during a stretch of 10 of 11 home games that included a seven-game stay that ended Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay. That wrapped up the longest homestand in the team's 100-year history.

Notes: Asham's point shot broke a pane of glass above the boards directly behind the Canadiens' goal 15:14 into the third. The game was delayed for 6 minutes while the maintenance crew replaced the glass and cleaned the ice. ... Philadelphia C Mike Richards ended an eight-game point streak. The Flyers captain had seven goals and eight assists in that stretch. ... Kovalev has 325 goals and 475 assists in 1,104 regular-season games with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh and Montreal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Mats Sundin is officially a Vancouver Canuck, joining fellow Swedes Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Mattias Ohlund and Alexander Edler.

I guess money talks after all, Mats.

No word yet on whether Sundin will play in any of Vancouver's upcoming games, or if he'll wait until after the Christmas break to make his debut. It has been previously reported that Mats would stay in Sweden with his family for the holiday period.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Just Can't Win If You're ALWAYS In The Box

The refs showed their teeth last night, and bit down on the Habs.

CLEARLY, I use the picture in good taste, jokingly, of course.

But no joke were the occurings on the ice in Raleigh last night.

The Canadiens wound up losing the game 3-2, but that wasn't the stat of the night.

The Canadiens were called for 11 CONSECUTIVE penalties in the game...THAT, was the stat of the night.

Now, unless your the Montreal Canadiens right now, you are more than likely going to cash in on at least one or two of those opportunities, and that's exactly what the Hurricanes did. In fact, they cashed in on three powerplays, JUST enough to win the game.

Ray Whitney picked up the only penalty for Carolina on the evening, midway through the third period, but Montreal failed to convert. .

Carolina were led by Eric Staal's two goals, and the game winner was eventually potted by Joe Corvo.

Montreal tallied on a penalty-shot marker courtesy Guillaume Latendresse, and then followed up with a shorthanded goal scored by Alex Kovalev, who in the process bumped a career-high 19-game goal-less drought.

Jaro Halak played well, but Montreal's indiscipline cost them in the long-run. Halak is likely to start again tomorrow vs. Philly, despite having dropped 3 in a row.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Habs Drop Game vs. Caps Late

The Montreal Canadiens did a lot of things right in the contest, but they can yet again attribute their loss vs. Washington Saturday night to the non-effective powerplay.

Montreal went 0-for-8 on the man-advantage and were only able to put up one goal on the evening courtesy Patrice Brisebois, who at the time in the second period tied it up, responding to a Nicklas Backstrom powerplay tally.

Michael Nylander potted the eventual game-winner with just 2:32 remaining in the third, as he backhanded a puck (while failling) and banked it in off of Jaroslav Halak's left skate.

Montreal outshot Washington 33-26.

The Caps did get strong goaltening in the contest, and from an irregular source. The Caps used their "goaltender of the future" Saturday, as both Jose Theodore (hip) and Brent Johnson (fatigue) couldn't go. Simeon Varlamov got his first NHL start and, of course, earned his first NHL win.

Jaroslav Halak is expected to start again tomorrow as Montreal visits Carolina.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Habs Douse Flames But Get Shocked By Lightning

The Montreal Canadiens played two games since our last recap here, so lets get to it.

Montreal pulled out a very impressive win vs. Calgary on a snowy Tuesday evening in Montreal...a VERY SNOWY evening.

The Habs dominated the Flames throughout the night, making the game more about speed and skill than size and strength. The Flames simply weren't able to keep up against a motivated Alex Tanguay and company.

The newly assembled big line of Robert Lang, Tanguay and Alex Kovalev was outstanding. Lang led the way with 2 goals and an assist, while Kovalev and Tanguay helped out with 2 helpers a piece.

Jaroslav Halak was brilliant in goal, turning aside 32 of 33 shots fired his way, beaten only by Dustin Boyd.


Jaro got the call again last night vs. Tampa Bay as Carey Price continues to battle a cold/flu. However, the outcome was totally different vs. Tampa Bay, as the Canadiens became the team being outworked, outhustled and outscored.

In an embarassing effort, Montreal fell 3-1 to the Lightning, who were led by Quebec's own Martin St.Louis and Vinny Lecavalier.

St.Louis potted 2 goals, and Vinny added the other which wound up being the game winner. He also had an assist.

Halak stopped just 19 of 22 shots fired his way in this contest, and was weak on two goals.

At the other end, Ollie Kolzig got the job done for Tampa in rare fashion to notch his second win of the season. Kolzig was busy, stopping 31 shots...and he made a couple miraculous saves to keep the puck out of the net as well.

Matt D'Agostini, who scored vs. the Flames, failed to score vs. Tampa, putting an end to his four-game goal streak.

Montreal's powerplay continues to struggle, going a combined 1-for-9 in those 2 games. They went 1-for-6 vs. Tampa.

Montreal now preps to host Washington tomorrow night. Washington, who have been playing without 10 of their regulars for a few weeks now, are reportedly set to welcome back a few of them, notably Mike Green and Alex Semin, with the possibility of Sergei Fedorov as well.

Montreal looks as if they are switching roles with Washington. Already without Mike Komisarek, they can now add three names to the injured list thanks to their last two games. Injured vs. Calgary were Mathieu Dandenault (broken arm) and Chris Higgins (shoulder). Yesterday, Saku Koivu left in the 2nd period with a lower-body injury.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Habs Prepare For Rare Flames Visit

I know I havent posted much since the Rangers pregame report, but I have been celebrating birthday festivities over the weekend, and I also had the Team 990 Christmas party to attend to, on top of working over the weekend until 3 am.

As you should know by now, Montreal crushed the Rangers 6-2 in front of myself and 21, 272 other fans in attendance, and they then dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to New Jersey.

Montreal will look to get back to their winning ways as the Flames enter the Bell Centre on Tuesday. Calgary played a very solid game last night, shutting out the Rangers in New York 3-0.

Murmers have it that Jaroslav Halak will get the start against Miikka Kiprusoff.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rangers In Town As 100-Year Countdown Begins

Today marks the 99th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens as a franchise, and beside from the festivities going on today (i.e. unveiling of the centennial plaza), the Canadiens do have a hockey game to play tonight.

Montreal will be in tough against a solid Eastern Conference and Original Six rival, as the Rangers are atop the East standings with 38 points.

Worthy of note that New York has played 28 games already - at least three more than any other team in the East. They have an 18-8-2 record. The Rangers are fresh off a 3-2 shootout win vs. the Penguins last night, so should be riding high as they enter on a particularly special night for the Habs, trying to play spoiler.

Montreal (14-6-4) is looking to build on their 2-game home winning streak as they play the third of a franchise-record seven-game homestand.

The game can be seen tonight on RDS & CBC [HD]. No lineup changes expected for Montreal.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Montreal Survives Scare To Beat Thrashers

The Montreal Canadiens played a rock-solid game last night vs. Atlanta - for the most part.

For the OTHER part, Atlanta pushed back...and how!

Montreal jumped out to a three-goal lead to start the second period, on goals by Matt D'Agostini (1st career NHL goal), Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov (powerplay!), but almost midway through the 3rd period, all hell broke loose.

First, former 1st round pick by Montreal Ron Hainsey benefitted from a bench error, where Georges Laraque claims he didn't hear his line called out and forgot to jump on the ice. Effectively a 5-on-4 even-strength opportunity (kind of an oxymoron, I know), Hainsey was free to take two hefty slappers on goal, and scored on the second one.

52 seconds later, Ron Hainsey was at it again. Tom Kostopoulos took a hooking call somewhere in between those 52 seconds, and Hainsey crashed the net to clean up a Bryan Little rebound. The goal was reviewed as it BARELY crossed the red line, but the call on the ice stood and a goal was awarded.

SEVEN seconds after that, off the ensuing faceoff, Kovalchuk tipped to Reasoner, who then sent a perfect pass to Chris Thorburn, who then fired the puck into the net.

The goals set two franchise records for Atlanta: Fastest 3-goal burst (59 sec) and 2-goal burst (7 sec).

Montreal, with all the momentum against them at this point, were crumbling. They needed a boost, fast.

They got it, courtesy lazy neutral-zone board play by Atlanta's defensemen.

Andrei Kostitsyn was able to pick up a loose puck which should have been scooped up by any of the two Thrashers who were close to it. Instead, AK46 cashed in on their hesitation, and took the puck in on a 2-on-1 with Matt D'Agostini. Tobias Enstrom sprawled out to block the pass, but wound up redirecting the puck with his body through Johan Hedberg's legs, putting the Habs up 4-3 on the goal credited to Andrei Kostitsyn.

Robert Lang added an empty netter (after missing one) on a feed by Alex Kovalev, tipping the puck out of midair.

Thank goodness he did.

With 20 seconds remaining, and the game apparently iced, Jason Williams took a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk and unloaded an absolutely perfect shot shortside, over Price's left shoulder nailing the top corner.

But, in the end, Atlanta's never-say-die effort was valiant, but was also too little, too late.

Both teams went 1-for-3 on the powerplay. Carey Price stopped 22 shots; Hedberg turned aside 28. Andrei Kostitsyn led the way with a goal and two helpers for Montreal, while Ron Hainsey turned in his first multi-goal game and added an assist.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Habs Look To Get Special Teams Going vs. Thrashers


Habs projected lines:

Andrei Kostitsyn-Saku Koivu-Matt D'Agostini
Christopher Higgins-Robert Lang-Alex Kovalev
Alex Tanguay-Tomas Plekanec-Tom Kostopoulos
Steve Bégin-Maxim Lapierre-Georges Laraque

Scratches: Sergei Kostitsyn, Ryan O'Byrne, Guillaume Latendresse.

The Habs will look to animate a flat-lining powerplay tonight vs the Thrashers, who have the worst penalty-killing percentage in the NHL. They've allowed 27 goals on 103 powerplay opportunities against, resulting in a dysmal 73.8% efficiency rating.

Montreal's powerplay, who for the previous two seasons ranked first, finds itself ranked 23rd in the league. The problem has been spread out, from the failure to enter the zone and setup, to the non-factor that is a shot from the point, and to the individual disappointments of key contributors like Alex Kovalev.

The game is scheduled for 7:30 pm and can be seen live on TSN and RDS, HD of course.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Canadiens Start Homestand On Right Foot

The Montreal Canadiens feel they have plenty of room for improvement despite a victorious start to the longest homestand in their 100 years of existence.

Andrei Markov scored Montreal's third goal of the second period to send the Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Andrei Kostitsyn and Steve Begin also scored in the middle period for Montreal.

"We're still up and down, we're still looking for our game and I think we can play better," Markov said.

Thomas Vanek scored twice for Buffalo to regain the NHL scoring lead from Philadelphia's Jeff Carter with 17 goals.

The Sabres have lost nine of their past 12 games (3-8-1).

"We had the lead twice and let them come back, and when you let a team as good as Montreal come back in it, chances are you're going to lose," Vanek said.

Carey Price made 26 saves to win his second in a row.

Montreal, which improved to 4-2-2 in its past eight games, began its longest homestand in team history following a 3-0 loss in Washington on Friday.

"If you look at our last six or seven games, I feel that we've played really well defensively - if you take away that game (Friday) night," coach Guy Carbonneau said.

The Canadiens will also face Atlanta, the New York Rangers, New Jersey, Calgary, Tampa Bay and Washington during their homestand, which ends Dec. 13.

Markov put Montreal ahead 18:30 into the second period when he took Saku Koivu's centering pass and beat Patrick Lalime from the slot for his third goal of the season.

"(Markov) knows how to get open and I saw him just out of the corner of my eye, but it was too late, he was already there," Lalime said.

Vanek ended a four-game goal drought to open the scoring with a highlight-reel power-play goal 13:31 in. He put his stick between his legs to tap a puck past Price from the goalmouth.

"It ended up coming to me, bouncing, and I knew that if I would just turn around and shoot it that Price is solid in there, so I had to get him off because I was in so tight," Vanek said. "I just tried to put it between my legs and it worked out."

He added his second of the game - his 17th goal to move ahead of Carter for the league lead - 7:39 into the second period to put Buffalo up 2-1.

Kostitsyn drew Montreal even at 1 with an unassisted goal 2:51 into the second. Kostitsyn fanned on his initial shot but recovered the puck to put a backhand past Lalime.

Begin drew Montreal even for the second time in the period at 13:40 as he one-timed Maxim Lapierre's pass from the left side and beat Lalime for his third goal.

"We've been practicing that every day," Begin said. "Every practice, that's all we do, Max and I, and finally it worked out, and it worked pretty good tonight."

The Sabres killed a full 2-minute 5-on-3 Canadiens power play 5:58 into the third after Jaroslav Spacek was called for holding and Adam Mair was sent off for elbowing.

Notes: Lalime stopped 31 shots. ... Sabres G Ryan Miller had appeared in 12 of Buffalo's past 13 games, including 11 starts, going 5-5-1 over that stretch. ... Canadiens LW Alex Tanguay missed his second straight game. He is day to day because of a neck injury he suffered during Wednesday's 3-1 win in Detroit.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Habs Stonewalled By Former Hab & Vezina Winner

WASHINGTON [CP] - Jose Theodore tried to downplay the importance of his shutout against his old Montreal Canadiens teammates.

Theodore, who spent parts of 10 seasons with Montreal before being traded to Colorado in March 2006, made 28 saves for the first shutout with Washington in the Capitals' 3-0 victory over the Canadiens on Friday night.

"I knew in the first period I was seeing the puck well," said Theodore, who has 26 career shutouts. "Even if I didn't see a lot of shots early, I knew I would need a good shot to beat me."

Theodore's second game against Montreal was a lot better than his first. He allowed eight goals in a loss to the Canadiens on Oct. 21, 2006, with Colorado.

Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Fleischmann and David Steckel scored to help the Capitals win their seventh straight at home - the longest streak since also winning seven in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 16, 2000. Washington is 9-0-1 at home, and is 15-0-1 since March 9.

This season didn't start well for Theodore. He was pulled after allowing four goals in 30 minutes in the opening game in Atlanta and, after sitting in favour of Brent Johnson for four games this month, he's back in favour.

"He was fabulous," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "For his confidence, for his mind-set, it was great to see for him for a confidence builder."

Fleischmann opened the scoring at 11:03 of the first period. In back of his own net, Montreal's Francis Bouillon tried to flip the puck down the ice, but Fleischmann intercepted it just in front of the net. He tapped the puck to Michael Nylander, who immediately returned it to Fleischmann, and the winger sent it past Jaroslav Halak for his ninth goal of the season. Fleischmann has five goals in his last eight games.

Ovechkin added his 13th goal of the season, and his fourth in the last two games at 3:42 in the third when he skated at Halak, who was making his first appearance in the last seven games, and shot it cleanly past him. Ovechkin has scored in 10 straight games. During those 10 games, he has 11 goals and 11 assists.

The shutout seemed more important to Ovechkin than his own streak.

"Before the game, (Theodore) didn't talk. He just concentrated on (the) game," Ovechkin said. "Today, he played well and deserved it. He deserved it."

Two minutes after Ovechkin's goal, Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:42, but couldn't score. About three minutes later, Steckel scored his fourth goal of the season.

Theodore was tested in the second period, with the Capitals clinging to a 1-0 lead. Neither team scored, but the Canadiens were clearly more aggressive - outshooting Washington 13-7 but failing to capitalize.

"The saves he made over a period of five minutes in the second period were pretty dazzling," Boudreau said.

Halak played well, his coach thought, but his teammates didn't.

"Jaro - that's where I'm embarrassed," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We come up with that kind of game, and that kind of effort - and I'm really sad for him.'

Carbonneau was grudging in praise of the former Canadiens goalie.

"He was lucky at some times," Carbonneau said. "He made the saves when he had to. We didn't really test him."

The victory was Washington coach Bruce Boudreau's 50th since he took over the team on Thanksgiving Day 2007, tying him for sixth place among Capitals. He reached 50 wins in 84 games, the fastest to the mark in team history.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Motown Shocker: Habs Stun Defending Champs

This Montreal Canadiens team is weird.

When a team that gets embarassed by Toronto and defeated by other lowly teams such as Columbus and Long Island defeats a team so good as the defending champs in such dominating fashion, you have to wonder how it all makes sense.

The Habs defeated Detroit 3-1 last night, and did so in a defensive-minded effort.

Montreal's game plan was obvious from the get-go: stack bodies in the neutral zone, allow no one to forecheck deep, and force Detroit to dump the puck in and chase. The plan worked perfectly against a team that uses puck posession and speed to their advantage. The system forced the Wings to dump the puck in, and despite them chasing, they were rarely ever able to gain control of the puck long enough to set up a decent attempt on goal. The reason for that was Montreal was winning nearly all of their 1-on-1 battles, and then used transition play at key times to find the back of Detroit's net on three occasions.

Montreal got the lead early in the second, when a Maxim Lapierre pass attempt from below the goal line redirected in off captain Nicklas Lidstrom's skate.

Shortly after that, Tomas Plekanec scored on a shortened Montreal powerplay, completing a tic-tac-toe passing play with defenseman Andrei Markov. The goal was initially a result of an Alex Kovalev takeaway - he got the secondary assist.

Just 50 seconds after that, Detroit coach Mike Babcock was forced to call a timeout as Chris Higgins took a nifty drop-pass from captain Saku Koivu and slid a backhander along the ice passed Ty Conklin.

Ryan O'Byrne, playing in his first game since the brutal own-goal incident Monday night, played a very solid game, apart from the fact that his giveaway led to Johan Franzen's shutout-breaking 10th of the season. Franzen showed dangler hands as he completely undressed O'Byrne before moving to his backhand to beat Price who was still on the wrong side of the net.

Josh Gorges had a spectacular outing, as has become the norm, especially in Komisarek's absence. Gorges blocked 2 shots (one of which required him to walk off the pain in the tunnel), dished out two hits, took a shot of his own and played for over 22:30.

Carey Price turned aside 32 shots for the win; Conklin stopped 25.

The win may have come at a price though, as Alex Tanguay left the game in the first period after being rocked by a hard, clean hit courtesy of Brad Stuart along the boards. He finished his shift but didn't return. Tom Kostopoulos filled his spot on the line alongside Koivu and Higgins, and he did a very good job at that, creating space and generating chances.

The Habs handed Detroit their first regulation loss of the month.

The Canadiens now prepare to face a surging Capitals squad in Washington, led by Alexander Ovechkin (fresh off a 3 goal 1 assist performance) and Jose Theodore.

Ovechkin, by the way, has really heated up in November: He has 10 goals and 21 points in his last nine games. Has has earned at least a point in all nine of those games, and has had three or more points four times.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Original Six Matchup: Habs vs. Wings @ the Joe


The Montreal Canadiens (11-5-4) visit an Original Six rival as they take on the Detroit Red Wings (14-2-4) at the renowned Joe Louis Arena.

Montreal will be in tough tonight, led in goal by Carey Price.

The Red Wings have won 7 of the last 8 home games vs. the Habs, and since 1994, are a sparkling 13-4-0.

To add to the Habs' woes, Detroit boasts a league-best 32.4% PP effeciency.

The only chink in their armor appears to be their penalty kill, which at 80.8% ranks 18th, one rank lower than Montreal's at 81.4%.

Ty Conklin will be between the pipes tonight, despite it being Chris Osgood's birthday. Conklin has been playing extremely well of late, boasting a 6-1-0 record. He has won his last three starts.

For Montreal, it appears Guillaume Latendresse wil sit out again. No word on any lineup changes.

Game can be seen on TSN(HD) and RDS(HD), faceoff time 7:30 pm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remember This? From March 9th - Backstrom Leads PENGUINS To Victory?

Caps forward Nicklas Backstrom, a possible leading candidate for the Calder trophy as the league's top rookie, scored a huge goal in a 2-2 game with 30 seconds left to give the Pittsburgh Penguins the lead en route to a 4-2 win in Washington.

If you think I made a mistake above, I don't blame you; by all means, it should be.

It isn't.

Sidney Crosby one-handed a desperation pass through the crease of Cristobal Huet, and the puck landed on young Backstrom's stick. Backstrom attempted to wrist the puck behind his net out of sheer panic, and wound up notching a goal that will not show up on the scoresheet...all it will do is leave him with a -1 on the play, and cost himself and his teammates a vital point in a sensational game that looked destined for overtime. Crosby was credited with the goal as he was the last Pens forward to touch the puck. Staal later added an empty netter set up by Malkin.

Immediately as Backstrom potted one past his own 'tender, Alex Ovechkin crumbled to the ice in a fetal position, with the reality of the situation sinking in immediately: a game which he and his teammates battled for to the bone had just been wasted away by a very bizarre own-goal.

Sidney Crosby was "mic'ed up" for the game on NBC/TSN, and they replayed the celebration footage, which allowed us to hear Crosby laughing and yelling to his teammates "He shot that in his own net!"

It certainly was something special to witness live. An identical event happened earlier in the year to Leafs d-man Bryan McCabe, who potted one home off of both posts past own-goalie Andrew Raycroft with 4 seconds remaining in an overtime session vs. the Buffalo Sabres.

Habs "O'Byrned" By Islanders

What is Doug Weight so happy about, you ask? The answer will leave you stunned...

I had predicted on the TEAM 990 pre-game show that Montreal would win 4-2 on the strength of their powerplay.

Early in the game, that prediciton looked good, as Montreal cashed in on the first PP opportunity to take the lead at 2-1 (from as unlikely a source as any in Josh Gorges, who scored his first as a Hab).

Then my prediction started to look worse, as Montreal failed to score on their other 6 powerplays.

Then, something happened that no one on the planet would have or could have predicted.

With the Habs up 3-2 since about midway through the second period, someone commited the error of all errors.

In the third period, with 4:47 remaining, Bill Guerin scored an empty net goal.


Did Montreal feel so cocky with the lead against the lowly Isles that they felt the need to pull Price? Is that the error I'm refering to? Was it Carbo's coaching error?

No. God no. I wish...

With Carey Price on the bench on a delayed penalty against Sean Bergenheim, Ryan O'Byrne won a foot race to the puck against Doug Weight (nothing to brag about, I know), collected it near the boards beside the right faceoff circle, and WRISTED IT INTO HIS OWN NET (Even LESS of SOMETHING to brag about, I know!).

Just like that, without even a shot on goal officially, the Isles were back in game.

The Habs would solve nothing on two of their 7 powerplays that came after the O'Byrne gaffe, and, despite being the aggresor , found no way to win their first in overtime of the season.

The shootout concluded with what I felt would happen immediately after the O'Byrne doozie, as the Isles wound up winning led by Richard Park and Bill Guerin.

O'Byrne was chanted off the ice by his own crowd, as they mocked his name in tune.

In an incredible stat, Joey MacDonald allowed 3 goals on 26 shots, while Price allowed 2 on 24, yet MacDonald got the win, as the O'Byrne own goal was never against Price.

In all fairness, O'Byrne's mistake was terrible, but the Habs threw this game themselves. They failed to connect on 6 straight man-advantges and looked very sloppy and disorganized on those opportunities once again. Even with the goal, their powerplay has become a serious issue. They came into the contest with the 2nd worst PP% on home ice, only ahead of Tampa Bay.

Steve Begin (2) and Maxim Lapierre (2) had the other goals in this one.

Montreal now has one night to dwell on this loss before heading out to Detroit to face the defending champs. Detroit lost 3-2 in overtime tonight, on the road in Vancouver.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Habs Host Streit, Islanders


Montreal looks to shake off a tough loss to Boston on Roy's jersey retirement night tonight as they visit former Hab Mark Streit and the New York Islanders at 7:30.

Carey Price will face-off against Joey MacDonald between the pipes.

The Canadiens look to win their seventh straight against the Islanders as the teams meet Monday night.

Montreal (11-5-3) has outscored New York (8-10-2) 24-10 since a 3-2 road loss on Feb. 24, 2007. The Canadiens have also won 12 of their last 15 (12-3-0) at home against the Islanders despite being limited to goals on 17.7 percent (11-for-62) of their power-play opportunities.

On Nov. 1, Montreal beat New York 5-4 despite going 0-for-3 on the power play. Yann Danis, who has since been sent to the minors, was in goal for the Islanders in that contest, but the Canadiens have had problems scoring regardless of who has been in net.

Montreal is 3-4-2 since getting off to an 8-1-1 start, scoring two goals or fewer four times during its slump. The Canadiens' scoring woes are largely due to their struggles on the power play, going 2-for-27 (7.4 percent) in their last six contests.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Stars F and captain Brendan Morrow will miss up to 6 months with a torn ACL in his right knee.

This is a HUGE blow to the Stars, who are last in their division and 14th in the Western conference.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carbo Shuffles The Deck, Again


Coach Carbonneau hasn't been impressed with his team over the last few games, especially in Carolina Tuesday. That's what has prompted him to once again shuffle the deck.

Saku Koivu will center a line between Alex Tanguay and Guillaume Latendresse; they played together for the first few games of the season while Higgins healed from a groin injury.

Tomas Plekanec is reunited with Alex Kovalev, and will welcome Chris Higgins on his left wing. The latter played with Higgins for two years in the AHL, but haven't played together much in the NHL.

Robert Lang centers Andrei Kostitsyn and Tom Kostopoulos, while the fourth line remains up in the air, but may feature Steve Bégin centring Georges Laraque and Sergei Kostitsyn.

Carey Price is back between the pipes, fresh off a 46-save outing in the loss.

The Sens, who are dead last in the East, will reunite the PIZZA LINE of Jason Spezza centering Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson (named PIZZA LINE because of a promotion in Ottawa where 6 goals on home ice wins the fans a slice of pizza, and those three were generally responsible for many free slices being handed out).

Alex Auld is likely to take his sparkling 2.14 GAA into Scotiabank Place tonight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Price Stops 46 In Loss To Hurricanes

The punchless Carolina Hurricanes kept peppering Carey Price, and got a couple of pucks past the Montreal goalie just in time.

Sergei Samsonov and Ray Whitney scored 3 1/2 minutes apart in the third period, and Carolina put a season-high 48 shots on net in its come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday night.

"We came out with the attitude that we were going to shoot some pucks and crash the net a little bit more," Samsonov said. "We really made an effort to try to put the puck on net from any position, and I think that kind of created the forecheck."

Whitney followed Samsonov's first goal of the season with the go-ahead goal with 13:27 remaining to jump-start a Carolina offence that averaged fewer than two goals in its previous six games.

"We're doing what we're doing now with not a lot of goal-scoring," Whitney said.
Robert Lang scored for the Canadiens, who ended a lengthy power-play drought yet lost for the third time in four games.

"The whole game was about who was going to take a gamble," Montreal forward Alex Kovalev said. "I think every time we saw (the) opportunity to be on the safe side, we took a gamble, and it cost us. We really (need to) focus on and concentrate on the little details, which is not to worry about points or if you're going to score a goal. For now, we need to win a couple of games 1-0 or 2-1.

"There are not going to be a lot of goals like there were at the beginning of the season. That's where it starts."

Price made a career-high 46 saves and stopped the first 30 shots he faced. Carolina's 48 shots also were the most allowed by the Canadiens.

"That's a team that shoots everything," Price said. "Whenever they get the puck in a good shooting position, they're going to be letting it go."

Cam Ward made 28 saves for the Hurricanes, who have won two straight after dropping three in a row.

"We're just building a little bit on each game," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "If you go back to (Friday's) loss in Atlanta, the next game and the next game, I think we're doing the right things and getting a little better each game. So we just have to continue on that road."

Whitney gave Carolina the lead by capping a busy sequence that started with Dennis Seidenberg's slap shot that caromed off the back boards to Scott Walker, who fanned from close range. The puck rolled to Whitney, and he pushed it high past Price for his fifth goal and first in four games.

That came after Samsonov got the Hurricanes even with about 17 minutes left. He took a feed from Patrick Eaves on a 2-on-2 rush and beat Price with a snap shot to end an 18-game goal drought.

"There have been some quality chances that I've gotten throughout the last few games, and it paid off," Samsonov said.

His slump might be over, but Eric Staal's certainly isn't. The Hurricanes' marquee player hasn't scored in eight games and has one goal on home ice.

"Our next (goal) is to get the big boy going," Whitney said of Staal.

Montreal entered with one of the NHL's worst power-play units, but scored with the man advantage for the first time in five games.

Barely a minute into the second period, Lang got things going for the Canadiens, who entered scoreless in their previous 20 power-play chances. He slipped into the slot, took a feed from Kovalev and snapped the puck hard past Ward's stick for his sixth goal, making it 1-0. One-third of Lang's 240 career goals have come with the man advantage.

Notes: Lang has scored in two straight games. .. Carolina C Rod Brind'Amour's two-game goal streak ended. .. Montreal lost in regulation after scoring first for the first time this season. .. The season series is tied 1-1.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Habs Eek Out Win In St. Louis

The Habs rebounded on the road Sunday after dropping a 2-1 decision at home vs. their playoff nemesis, the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Habs were very undisciplined, and it was evident that the cause was the fatigue from playing two games in under 24 hours + travel.

I had never before seen Montreal cancel so many of their own powerplays by taking a penalty. It was truly mind-boggling. They did it four times.

Luckily enough, however, the Habs found a way to get it done...however, some truly discouraging characteristics are becoming evident.

Most evident of all: the powerplay is anemic. Someone needs to pot a PPG soon for Montreal, because it has become downright ridiculous. The confidence of a team that had the best powerplay 2 years running is clearly shaken. Montreal has always been highly-dependant on their special teams, so someone is going to have to find a way to score soon, to shake the proverbial monkey off their collective backs.

The Habs tied the game twice, each time responding to a Steve Regier goal - his first two in the NHL.

First, Andrei Kostitsyn barreled down the right side and squeaked a backhander through Manny Legace's legs. Then, Robert Lang displayed great hand-eye coordination by batting a puck out of mid-air while on his keester to send it top shelf and tie the game at 2 with just 4:12 remaining.

OT solved nothing, despite each team going on a 4-on-3 powerplay.

Alex Kovalev sealed the win in the shootout, scoring the only goal of either team. He went from forehand to backhand to the top shelf as the last shooter on the bench-clearing goal.

Montreal's 3 game road trip continues Tuesday in Carolina before concluding Thursday in Ottawa - two teams that have struggled lately.

Montreal D Francis Bouillon took a slapshot in the neck area during overtime. He bolted for the locker room immediately, horrifying a woman who worked as personnel for the Blues in the tunnel (she took one look at Francis and put her hands to her mouth in sheer, utter horror). Not much word on the severity of the injury, but one site claims it isn't too serious.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Lightning head coach Barry Melrose has been fired by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Melrose will be replaced by Rick Tocchet - a man who nearly went to jail a little over a year ago on gambling accusations.

Melrose coached 16 games this season, going 5-7-4. He used Vincent Lecavalier slightly over 16 minutes yesterday, about 10 minutes less than Lecavalier's accustomed to.

Habs On A Roller Coaster Ride

The Canadiens, who went from a thoroughly embarassing weekend to a stunningly awesome outing on Tuesday, went back to their humiliating ways again last night in Boston.

Milan Lucic had a goal and a big fight win over Mike Komisarek to help lead the B's over the Habs, 6-1. The win put an end to Montreal's 12-game regular season winning streak.

Komisarek suffered an injury in the fight (hand) and will be held out of the lineup tomorrow vs. the big bad Flyers, who for their part will be without Danny Briere and are fresh off a blown lead for a loss vs. Pittsburgh.

The Habs just had absolutely nothing going for them in the game, which slipped away from them very early as F Shawn Thornton scored 2 and a half minutes in. The Bruins turned it on and never looked back, while the Habs seemed to apply the brakes when down and never recovered.

Carey Price was in goal for all 6 goals allowed...needless to say, Price had a weak outing.

Coach Carbonneau announced to the media that Jaroslav Halak will start vs. Philly.

Saku Koivu had the only goal for Montreal. Tanguay assisted.

Montreal (9-3-2) now hosts Philly Saturday before flying to the midwest for a rare date with the St. Louis Blues, on an even rarer start-time of 6 p.m.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Habs Shoot For Lucky 13 in Boston

The Boston Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens tonight and will try to win their fifth do so, they'll have to end a 12-game regular season losing streak to the Habs.

Boston (9-3-3) has won seven of their last eight games, thanks in large part to the sensational play of G Tim Thomas, who controversely is not on the All-Star ballot. Thomas boasts a sparkling 1.76 GAA and a .946 save %.

Rumors have Manny Fernandez getting the call in goal tonight, however.

The Canadiens (9-2-2) have outscored Boston 50-22 over their 12-game winning streak. Montreal are fresh off their best-effort of the season, having come away with a 4-0 win on home ice vs. the Senators. That win was fresh off an abysmal weekend which saw the Habs lose 4-3 in penalty shots to Columbus and 6-3 in an embarassing outing in Toronto.

Carey Price recorded his first shutout Tuesday, and will be between the pipes again tonight.

Game time is scheduled for 7 pm, and the game can be seen on RDS (HD) and on the NHL Network.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Higgins Gets Tricky, Price Stonewalls In Habs Win

Christopher Higgins scored his first career hat-trick and Carey Price made 28 saves for the shutout as the Montreal Canadiens downed the Ottawa Senators 4-0 Tuesday night.

Guillaume Latendresse also scored for Northeast Division-leading Montreal (9-2-2), which ended a two-game losing run.

The Senators (6-7-2), who are last in the division, lost both games on a two-game road trip.

Higgins, who had scored twice in a game nine times, had a goal in each period to give him four in seven games since returning from a groin injury.

Price rebounded from a weak outing in a 6-3 loss in Toronto on Saturday night to post his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. His last shutout was 3-0 against Ottawa on April 1, which was the last time the two teams met.

The highlight for the 21-year-old was a toe save on Dany Heatley in alone in the third period.
Montreal outshot the Senators 31-28.

The Canadiens were short-handed when Saku Koivu shovelled a pass from his own end to the far blue-line, sending Higgins in alone to lift the puck over Alex Auld 7:22 into the game.

Sergei Kostitsyn slipped the rebound of Ryan O'Byrne's point shot to Higgins for a shot into an open side 14:11 into the second frame. Latendresse got his first goal in 11 games with a one-timer to the top corner after Robert Lang won a face-off in the Ottawa zone.

With 3:25 left in the game, Higgins took a pass from Alex Tanguay at centre ice and went in alone to score on a high shot to the stick side.

Ottawa's Jarkko Ruutu had the sellout crowd of 21,273 aroar early in the third when he nailed Maxime Lapierre with an elbow to the jaw along the boards, drawing a charging call, and then fought to a draw with Francis Bouillon. Ruutu was later sent to the dressing room with a 10-minute misconduct for yapping at Lapierre on the bench.

It was a rare night on which Montreal shut down Ottawa's big three of Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, who together had 42 points in eight games against the Canadiens last season.

It has been six games since Alfredsson was moved onto Mike Fisher's line. Spezza has only one assist in his last five games.

Notes - Last season, Ottawa was 5-3-0 against Montreal, but lost the last two meetings..Tom Kostopoulos served the first of his three-game suspension for a hit from behind on Toronto's Mike Van Ryn. Steve Begin and Patrice Brisebois were healthy scratches for Montreal..Luke Richardson sat out for Ottawa.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kostopoulos Suspended Three Games

Habs winger Tom Kostopoulos has been suspended three games for his hit from behind on Toronto defenseman Mike Van Ryn last Saturday, which left the latter with a concussion, a broken bone in his hand, a broken nose and a gash on his forehead. Van Ryn is expected to miss a month.

"While it is my determination that Kostopoulos did not deliver a check to an unsuspecting opponent, his actions caused injuries," said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kostopolous is considered a repeat offender, and will lose $32,926.83 from his salary. As a repeat offender, the salary forfeit is based on games in the season (82) rather than the number of days (186). The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Kostopoulos said after the game he had no malicious intent and planned to call Van Ryn to apologize."I was trying to get in there, get a hit and get the puck," Kostopoulos said. "Like I said, I didn't anticipate him turning and I couldn't stop myself. And I hope he's all right."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Grabovski, Leafs Double Up On Habs

Mikhail Grabovski is settling in quite nicely with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Grabovski had a goal and an assist and linemate Niklas Hagman scored twice to lead Toronto to a 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Grabovski has six goals and two assists in the last four games, teaming with Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin to form a nice line. Grabovski had three goals in 27 career games with Montreal over the last two seasons and has seven in 15 for the Maple Leafs, who acquired him in a trade over the summer.

"He's been our best player for two weeks," coach Ron Wilson said. "He's been a dominant player. That's why he's got seven goals now."

Grabovski was gracious when asked about his time in Montreal after Saturday's game, but Hagman said he was pretty fired up to prove something to his former team.

"For sure he wanted to show the coach and show the other players on the team that he is a good player," Hagman said. "I think that he did a pretty good job."

Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina and Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Maple Leafs (6-5-4), who outshot their opponent for the 11th straight game.

Robert Lang, Tomas Plekanec and Saku Koivu had Montreal's goals.

The Habs (8-2-2) were playing for the second straight night and weren't able to match the pace set by the speedy Leafs.

A scary play early in the game helped Toronto score first. Montreal forward Tom Kostopoulos slammed Mike Van Ryn into the end boards from behind and was ejected with a major for boarding.

Van Ryn lay on the ice for several minutes with a cut on his forehead and is expected to miss a month.

"It was a dirty hit," Leafs forward Matt Stajan said. "It's something that can't happen in the game. Luckily, we made them pay."

The incident left Kostopoulos visibly shaken. He planned to give Van Ryn a call to apologize.

"I was trying to get in there, get a hit and get the puck," Kostopoulos said. "Like I said, I didn't anticipate him turning and I couldn't stop myself. And I hope he's all right."

The Maple Leafs weren't able to get much going during the ensuing five-minute power play but Hagman converted the only good scoring opportunity they had. Grabovski made a nifty move to get around defenseman Andrei Markov before feeding Hagman at the side of the net for a goal at 8:12.

"He's playing well," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said of Grabovski. "Good for him."

The lead held until a wild second period that featured each team score three times.

Grabovski ripped a quick shot by former teammate Carey Price to make it 2-0 at 1:48 but was in the penalty box for goaltender interference when Lang scored three minutes later.

Plekanec's power-play goal at 9:59 tied it and drew a loud ovation from the large group of Habs fans that were among the 19,512 in attendance at Air Canada Centre.

Hagman and Koivu then traded quick goals before Antropov put the Leafs up 4-3 at 16:27. With Price out of position, Antropov took four whacks at the puck in a scrum before finally getting it past Habs defenseman Mike Komisarek.

That goal gave the Leafs a lead heading into the third period for just the fourth time in 15 games this season. They had no trouble holding on.

Toronto now heads out for a tour of Western Canada that includes stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. There was no better send-off than a win over the rival Canadiens.

"We really wanted that game," Stajan said. "That's how we've got to play every game, come out with an edge and really take it to them. Even when they came back there, we never gave up.
"You know, we're proving to everybody - we know in here that we can play with any team in this league. There's no doubt about it, that's one of the best teams in the league."

Notes: Former Leaf and World War II veteran Gaye Stewart read the poem "In Flanders Fields" before the game. ... Since the NHL lockout, each team has won 13 games in the series. The total number of goals in those games? Montreal 87, Toronto 87. ... The Habs scratched Roman Hamrlik, Mathieu Dandenault and Steve Begin. ... Jiri Tlusty replaced John Mitchell (shoulder) in Toronto's lineup. ... Jonas Frogren, Anton Stralman and Ryan Hollweg sat out for the Maple Leafs.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Jersey In For Many Tough 'Weekes'


Martin Brodeur's assault on the NHL record book will be put on hold for a considerable amount of time.

Brodeur, shown above wincing after landing awkwardly on his left elbow while making a save, will have surgery to repair torn tendons in the bicep-elbow area, and will miss the next 3-to-4 months. ''This Thursday morning, Martin Brodeur will undergo surgery to repair the distal bicep in the left elbow," Devils president, CEO and general manager Lou Lamriello said in a statement.

Backup Kevin Weekes, who had his first start of the year yesterday in a 2-0 lopsided loss to Buffalo, becomes the new man between the pipes - at least until Lou Lamoriello pulls the trigger and acquires bonafide help in goal.

Maybe some Jaroslav Halak to New Jersey rumours can start now...and I'll get the fire going on them. Leave a comment on that, let me know if you would deal Halak to New Jersey, and for what in return?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Habs Score 4 In Third To Comeback In 5-4 Win

The Montreal Canadiens were happy to mount a four-goal, third-period comeback, but quite upset to have been in that position in the first place.

Alexei Kovalev's second goal of the game with 4:41 left capped the rally that lifted the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

"The good thing about tonight is that we showed character and that we'll fight to the end," Kovalev said. "Our biggest problem so far this season is that when other teams skate and put pressure on us, we get out of our game."

Kovalev's close-in shot beat Yann Danis, a goalie making his first NHL start in nearly three years, and gave the Canadiens their third straight win.

"Obviously, losing a game when you're up 4-1 is never a good thing," Danis said. "They got a couple of lucky bounces and capitalized on them."

Danis, the Islanders' third-string goalie, could be in line for more action with regular backup Joey MacDonald because No. 1 netminder Rick DiPietro will be out four-to-six weeks following knee surgery on Friday.

The Canadiens got two goals and two assists from Tomas Plekanec and one from Long Island native Christopher Higgins. Carey Price made 27 saves.

Former Canadiens defenseman Mark Streit scored for the Islanders, along with Jon Sim, Bill Guerin and Frans Nielsen.

The Islanders are winless in six games (0-5-1) since a 4-3 overtime victory at Tampa Bay on Oct. 16. Danis, who spent time in the Canadiens organization, stopped 27 shots.

"The biggest thing was there were a lot of shortcuts," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "It wasn't because of anything they did differently. The loosening up in front of the net and the shot area, that shouldn't happen."

Montreal took a 1-0 lead 2:03 in when Kovalev took Plekanec's pass in the low slot and beat Danis with a quick wrist shot.

New York tied it at 3:47 on its first power play. Streit ripped a right point slap shot that beat a screened Price.

Streit found it a difficult to face his former team.

"I played a long time in Montreal," Streit said. "It's not easy the first time. I tried to do my job the best I could."

The Islanders took their first lead after a span of 317 minutes, 4 seconds of playing time over five games when Sim sent a slap shot from the top of the left circle between Price's pads at 12:27 that made it 2-1. New York hadn't been ahead in a game since Oct. 16 when the Islanders beat Tampa Bay in overtime.

New York capitalized on another power play early in the second period to grab a 3-1 lead when Guerin scored on a tip-in.

Nielsen made it 4-1 on an in-close wrist shot that hit the top of the net at 16:43.
Plekanec scored twice in a 2:07 span to close the gap to 4-3 in the third period. His first goal came at 7:48 on a rebound, and his second, at 9:55 was scored with a quick wrist shot.
Danis was not happy with Plekanec's first goal.

"It just bounced off my glove," Danis said. "It's one I should have had."

Higgins tied it at 14:06.

"We played one period, and we won," Higgins said. "I wish the effort was more consistent for 60 minutes."

Streit said the Islanders didn't play at all in the final 20 minutes.

"For two periods, we really played well," Streit said. "Then we didn't skate anymore. We just waited. We gave them space and time. We didn't forecheck, we didn't backcheck. We just watched."

Notes: The Islanders debuted their third jerseys, which look like the first uniform the team wore back in the early 1970s. One difference is that the stick in the logo has four stripes instead of the usual three, to signify each of New York's Stanley Cup championships. ... Price had allowed only 13 goals in his first seven games for a goals-against average of 1.91.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Habs Kill Off 10 Penalties, Hang On For Win

What a mission for the penalty killers last night.

Montreal killed off 10 Minesota powerplays last night, including 2 very lengthy 5-0n-3 opportunities and one a litte shorter in length (9 seconds) en route to posting a 2-1 road victory over the Wild.

Worthy of noting, the Wild entered the contest with the 3rd highest powerplay ranking in the league. That stat took a major hit after the game, dropping from 27.3% to 18.8%.

Minnesota tied its franchise worst with the 10 blown opportunities and heard some rare boos from the usually adoring home crowd.

The Wild were also ranked #1 on the PK coming into the tilt, but the Habs dented that stat as well, scoring on a 5-on-3 courtesy Andrei Markov and going 1-for-5 on the night.

Carey Price was absolutely spectacular, ONCE AGAIN, in goal for the Habs. Price made 28 saves on the night, outdueling his young counterpart Josh Harding.

Markov's goal early in the 2nd was his first of the season and was also the game-winner.

The Habs, who trailed 1-0 on a goal by Brent Burns just over a minute and a half in, tied it at the 4:28 mark of the 1st, as Francis Bouillon released a shot through a screen that had eyes for the net and Harding never saw.

Saku Koivu went head-to-head with brother Mikko, which marked the 1st game since 1987 that two brothers served as captains vs each other in an NHL game. Saku had a great night, and the same can be said of Mikko. Neither brother recorded a point, but Saku did finish at +1 while Mikko finished at even.

The big stat difference was the ice time:

Saku: 15:47 Mikko: 23:30 - A main reason of the difference, all the PP time for Mikko. He logged 9:20 of PP time.

Montreal improved to 7-1-1 and head to Long Island to face Mark Streit and the Islanders Saturday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Habs Open 4-Game Road Trip In Minnesota

The Habs visit the Wild tomorrow night in a matchup that will feature brother vs. brother, and captain vs. captain, as Habs captain Saku Koivu goes head-to-head with Wild captain Mikko Koivu.

It will be the first time brothers have faced each other as captains in an NHL game since 1987 when Brian and Darryl Sutter captained St. Louis and Chicago.


Weathering The Storm (Barely...)

The Habs eeked out a 3-2 shootout victory vs. the Carolina Hurricanes last night, wrapping up a very successful home stand which saw them go 4-1.

The Habs were very fortunate to earn the full 2 points last night, as it can easily be agrued that the Hurricanes played a much better all-around game than the Habs. Montreal was outshot 33-25, and seemed to have a lot of trouble clicking as a team in passing.

The Habs seemed a little dazed and confused on the ice for the better part of the evening. Miscommunication was to blame, and at some times, failure to communicate at all.

The Habs will certainly need to put out a much better effort if they expect to beat an unbeaten Minnesota side (6-0-1) on the road on Thursday.

Montreal was able to ice a fully healthy lineup for the first time of the season. Apart from the apparent lack of chemistry displayed last night, it is possible that the lineup will have a hole once again. Roman Hamrlik blocked a shot with his knee, and hobbled off the ice, not to reutrn. Reports, however, suggest 'Hammer' could be ready for tomorrow night's tilt.

Montreal got two goals after Carolina opened the scoring. Alex Kovalev scored with 4:04 to play in the first, coming in on an angle from the right wing on Canes G Cam Ward and outwaiting him to go top shelf on a wrister. The Habs then profited on a 5-on-3 powerplay situation...just not as one would expect.

Canes D Dennis Seidenberg gloved the puck in the crease in a scramble to score, and the referee saw the incident and immediately awarded a penalty shot. Alex Tanguay stepped up and released a perfect wrister low-blocker side to beat Ward for the goal.

The Canes tied the game under a minute into the third, on a flukey goal scored by Matt Cullen with almost no room for error. Price may have been partly to blame, but he surely made up for it on many occasions, dazzling the crowd with some great saves.

Price, however, almost cost the Habs with 2:01 remaining in regulation by lobbing the puck over the glass and taking a delay of game penalty in the process. The Habs stepped up for their goaltender, killed off the penalty, and took it into OT.

In OT, the Habs had another great opportunity on a late powerplay, but Robert Lang was robbed by Ward on a rebound. Important to note: Lang missed a few GOLDEN opportunities throughout the night.

In the shootout, Saku Koivu sealed the win for Montreal, scoring the only goal of the shootout by opening up Ward on the backhand and sliding it through his legs, a la Andrei Markov.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Habs Conclude Home Stand vs. Carolina

Listen to Rod Francis and YOURS TRULY Sal Amato tonight from 7-730 for the pre-game show on Montreal's Sports Authority, the TEAM 990 (990 AM)!

After opening with three straight road games, Montreal is 3-1-0 on a homestand that concludes with this contest.

On Saturday, Alex Tanguay had two goals, while Saku Koivu added one and Robert Lang two assists for the Canadiens, who took 52 shots but allowed one more goal than they did in their previous three games combined on the homestand.

"When you do have 50 shots you have to bury a lot more of those," said Tanguay, who has a team-leading five goals in his first season with Montreal.

Andrei Markov recorded an assist Saturday and has at least one in each game this season for a team-leading 10.

"We did some good things but the mental focus wasn't there," said Koivu, who has a goal in four straight games and three in his last four contests versus Carolina. "We weren't as sharp as we were used to being in the last couple of games here."

Carey Price allowed two goals on 13 shots in replacing Jaroslav Halak on Saturday. Price is 3-1-1 with a 2.11 GAA this season and struggled in his only previous start versus Carolina, making 26 saves before being pulled in a 5-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Dec. 8.

Carolina, which went 2-1-1 versus the Canadiens last season, will be without defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is sidelined for at least a month after tearing the meniscus in his knee against the Islanders. Rookie center Brandon Sutter is also likely out for this contest after sustaining a concussion Saturday.

Cam Ward is 6-2-1 with a 2.76 GAA versus against Montreal, but could be in for a challenge against the Canadiens (5-1-1), who are coming off their first regulation loss, 6-4 to Anaheim on Saturday.

Eric Staal has eight goals with eight assists in 16 career games versus Montreal and four goals in his last five contests against the Canadiens. Brind'Amour, meanwhile, has at least one point in his last seven games versus Montreal and nine during that span.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ducks Hand Habs First Regulation Loss

MONTREAL (AP) -The Anaheim Ducks had their biggest offensive outburst of the season despite being widely outshot by the Montreal Canadiens.

Corey Perry had a goal and two assists and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 47 shots as Anaheim won its third straight with a 6-4 victory over Montreal on Saturday night.

Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. Kent Huskins, Travis Moen and Teemu Selanne also scored for Anaheim, which has won four of five since an 0-4 start.

"Finally, we put some goals on the board and it's a great feeling all around," said Perry, who was credited with his second assist - at Getzlaf's expense - in a scoring change to Anaheim's sixth goal after the game.

Alex Tanguay had two goals, and Saku Koivu and Tom Kostopoulos also scored for the Canadiens, who ended a five-game winning streak despite holding a 51-25 margin in shots.

"When you do have 50 shots you have to bury a lot more of those," Tanguay said.

The Canadiens, who hosted their 2,900th NHL regular-season home game, failed to record a point for the first time in seven games (5-1-1).

"We did some good things but the mental focus wasn't there," Koivu said. "We weren't as sharp as we were used to being in the last couple of games here."

Huskins and Getzlaf scored 2:51 apart to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead early in the first period.

Montreal answered with three straight goals, beginning with Tanguay's fourth of the season on a power play midway through the first.

Koivu scored his fourth goal just as Todd Marchant's tripping penalty expired with 3:37 left in the first, and Kostopoulos put the Canadiens up 3-2 with his first goal of the season 1:34 into the second.

Anaheim came back with three straight goals before the end of the middle period.
"Even though they scored the two goals to tie the hockey game and then they went up 3-2, we didn't really stray away from what we were trying to do," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We were fortunate enough that our goaltender made enough stops at critical times and our power play delivered for us."

Perry scored his first of the season on a power play at 2:40 to even it at 3, and Kunitz restored the Ducks' lead with his first at 4:40, chasing Jaroslav Halak, who allowed four goals on 12 shots.
Moen scored a short-handed goal with 3:21 left in the second period when he put a backhand past Carey Price on a breakaway.

Perry was awarded a penalty shot with 1:56 remaining in the second but lost control of the puck when he went to his backhand on Price.

Selanne increased the Ducks' lead to 6-3 on a power play 5:40 into the third.

Tanguay scored his second goal of the game with 6:15 left.

Montreal's Andrei Markov played his 500th regular season game, extending his assists and points streaks to seven games with an assist on Tanguay's first goal.

Notes: New Ducks D Bret Hedican, signed as a free agent Thursday, was not in uniform. LW Brad May also was a healthy scratch. ... Canadiens LW Chris Higgins made his season debut after missing the first six games because of a groin injury. ... It was Halak's first career appearance against Anaheim. ... Koivu's points streak reached six games. He has four goals and six assists over that span.

Associated Press

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Habs Get Back To Business; Host Ducks

Winning the first three games of their road trip would mean a lot to the Anaheim Ducks as they try to rebound from a tough start to their season.

For Jean-Sebastien Giguere, winning in Montreal might mean even more.

Giguere will make his fourth appearance in his hometown on Saturday night, as the Ducks look to hand the Canadiens their first regulation loss of 2008-09.

While Anaheim's fans may have panicked after an 0-4-0 start, the Ducks (3-5-0) have won three of their last four, including wins at Toronto and Ottawa to start a four-game trip.

After they were outshot 13-0 in the third period of a 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, the Ducks again stumbled late in Friday night's 4-3 win over the Senators. They nearly blew a 4-0 lead by allowing three goals in the final period, but held on for the victory, with Ryan Getzlaf's first goal of the season - also the first for Anaheim's top line - serving as the game-winner.

"We tried hard - we worked hard," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We stayed with our structure. We got a little bit sloppy into the neutral ice as the game wore on, a little too much stuff on our backhand, but I thought we pretty much stayed with the course and we got it out in the end."

With 27 saves, backup goalie Jonas Hiller got the win for Anaheim, as Carlyle adjusted his rotation to give Giguere the chance to play in his hometown.

In three previous starts in Montreal, Giguere has a win, a loss and a tie. He dropped his first game there despite making 32 saves in a 4-3 loss while with Calgary on Nov. 19, 1998, but won his most recent visit, stopping 21 shots in a 5-3 Anaheim win on Dec. 10, 2005. He has a 2.92 goals-against average at the Bell Centre.

This time, he'll face a red-hot Canadiens club that has won five straight since losing its season opener in a shootout. Montreal (5-0-1) has outscored opponents 21-9 over its current run, also winning its first three home games of the season.

The Canadiens will enter Saturday's tilt with plenty of rest after beating Florida 3-1 in their last game on Monday. Defenseman Francis Bouillon, who scored two goals in 74 games last season, tallied the game-winner in his season debut, while backup goalie Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves and earned the praise of Montreal captain Saku Koivu, who has goals in three straight games.

"I think we got outplayed by the opponent tonight, there's no doubt about that, and without his performance, without his great game, it would have been a really long night for us," Koivu said.

Halak was playing while starter Carey Price continues to recover from a bout with the flu. Price is likely to again miss Saturday's game, but he said he's been feeling better and could return next week.

"I spent three days in bed, it was pretty boring," Price told the Canadiens' official Web site. "But I'm feeling much better now and with another night's sleep, I'll be ready to go."

Halak has never faced Anaheim. The Canadiens have just one win in their last five games against the Ducks, who last lost in Montreal on Oct. 9, 2001.

Friday, October 24, 2008

HUGE HIT: Lucic Sends Van Ryn Through Glass

Holy moly, what a hit!

A couple of fans were cut (one reportedly pretty bad along the forehead). Was the hit legal? Lucic can be seen leaving his feet - albeit briefly - which causes me to wonder if this hit was fair to begin with.

Van Ryn seems to be doing fine. What a HIT.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Montreal Earns 5th Win After Toppling Panthers

Does Montreal have a bonafide starting goaltender? If you believe it's Carey Price, someone is begging to differ. His name? Jaroslav Halak.

Halak was sensational in goal as the Habs went on to defeat the Panthers by a score of 3-1. He made 35 saves including some highlight reel desperation grabs and kick saves to limit the Panthers surging offense to just a goal.

The Habs goaltending tandem has been simply STELLAR to open the season, and the stats don't lie.

Halak improved his save percentage to .967 on the season while allowing a single goal in both his starts. He's been a perfect compliment to Price, who has a .939 save percentage and a 3-0-1 record thus far.

''It was one of his best games (with the Canadiens), and it's not easy for him because it had been several days since he played,'' Habs coach Guy Carbonneau said of Halak. ''It's fun for a coach to have two guys like that who you can send in there against anybody.''

Francis Bouillon made his first start of the season, and wound up scoring the game's winning goal. The goal was scored by Bouillon on a slap shot through a screen from the point. But the point is not where Bouillon started this game. He was slotted in at wing on the fourth line to begin the contest, eventually moving back to his natural position at defense.

''That's a little weird, it's really tough doing both,'' Bouillon said. ''As you could see, I'm not too comfortable playing forward.''

Saku Koivu scored in his third straight game and Tomas Plekanec scored into an empty net for the Canadiens while Andrei Markov extended his points streak to six games with an assist on Koivu's goal.

Montreal took the lead at 2:07 of the second period when Markov found himself behind the Panthers defence and whiffed on a shot attempt but then blindly dropped a pass to Koivu, who tucked it inside the far post for his third of the season.

''Half the players in this league couldn't even imagine making the plays he makes,'' Koivu said of Markov, who has nine assists in six games. ''It makes the forwards jobs so much easier playing with him. Like on my goal tonight, there's only a handful of players who can miss a shot and recover in time to find a guy and get him the puck.''

Florida tied it up on a Keith Ballard goal that came off a Cory Stillman rebound. It was Ballard's first as Panther. Ballard was traded along with Nick Boynton from Phoenix for then-captain Olli Jokinen.

Plekanec added a short-handed empty netter with 22 seconds remaining. Maxim Lapierre was in the box serving a 2-minute minor for holding-the-stick, taken with 2:17 remaining in a one-goal game.

Ryan O'Byrne had a particularly disappointing outing. He logged just under 9 minutes of ice-time, and had 3 giveaways. Alex Kovalev didn't have too many negative stats, as he finished with an assist and a +1 rating, but he looked out of place on the ice and seemed to be fighting the puck. To his credit, Florida had a steady presence of defensemen all over Kovy throughout the game, proof that teams have taken notice to Kovalev's standout season last year.

Montreal was 0-for-5 on the powerplay, and killed off both of Florida's man-advantages.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lineup Changes For Panthers/Habs Tilt

The lineup will look a little different from the winning lineup iced thus far.

Forwards Chris Higgins - who still hasn't played this season -, Andrei Kostitsyn - who suffered a concussion vs. Phoenix -, and Georges Laraque - who once again tweaked his groin -, will not be in the lineup tonight.

Kyle Chipchura was recalled today and will play tonight as the Habs host the Panthers at 7:30.

Making his first start of the season will be D Francis Bouillon.

Sergei Kostitsyn will replace brother Andrei on his line alongside Tomas Plekanec and Alex Kovalev.

Finally, Jaroslav Halak gets the call in goal.

Tune into the TEAM 990 (990am) at 7 p.m. for the pre-game show with YOURS TRULY, Sal Amato and Rod Francis.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Habs Down Coyotes, Lose Kostitsyn In Process

By all accounts, the matchup between the Canadiens and Coyotes was one to remember; however, maybe not so much for Andrei Kostitsyn.

The Habs defeated the Coyotes 4-1 in a game filled with great passes, dazzling moves, supers shots, and aggressive behavior.

Carey Price was calm and solid as usual, stopping 28 of 29 shots fired his way.

The Habs' new big-line of Tanguay-Koivu-Latendresse was the line of the night once again. They were on the ice for the first three goals of the game, with Tanguay potting two and Koivu scoring the other on a sublime slap-pass from Andrei Markov. Despite not having a goal yet, Markov is doing exceptionally well in the assists department, adding two and pushing his total to eight.

Guillaume Latendresse had an assist on the first Tanguay goal, and he continued to impress all night long. Gui has really taken a liking to being a part of what is now the Habs top line.

The Plekanec line continues to struggle, as the other teams have taken notice to last season's breakout and are using their top defensemen against them. To make matters worse, Andrei Kostitsyn may miss some time (he's out for the Florida match for sure).

AK46 was levelled on a suspect hit from 'Yotes d-man Kurt Sauer. The hit sent AK into the boards and caused him to land face first onto the ice. The head shot caused Andrei to lay motionless on the ice for a while; concussion is a plausible scenario. Andrei evetnaully got up with the help of trainers and the cameras focussed in on his face, showing how immediate the swelling occured around his left eye. He looked pretty bad...

That set the tone for some serious action throughout the remainder of the game, which still had just under two full periods of play ahead of it. Immediately after, Sergei Kostitsyn laid a late hit on a Coyotes defensemen, and Sergei took a roughing penalty, much to the CONTENT of the crowd who recognized the brotherly act.

Georges Laraque searched for a dance partner, but couldn't find one (at least not quite yet...).

Instead, Sauer squared off with Tom Kostopoulos, and despite not doing too well in the tilt, TK got a nice ovation from the crowd.

Laraque would get his dance late in the second period, going toe to toe with Coyotes tough guy Todd 'the Fridge' Fedoruk, a black belt in martial arts. Laraque won that fight, outmuscling and outpunching his opponent with ease.

The Habs added a fourth straight goal on a Robert Lang powerplay goal before Shane Doan would break Carey's goose-egg exactly midway through the third period.

Montreal finished with 33 shots on goal and went 1-for-3 on the powerplay, all the while shutting down Phoenix on both of their powerplay opportunities.

No updates just yet on Andrei Kostitsyn's condition. Check back tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Like A Broken Record

The Habs have defeated the Boston Bruins.

The Habs have defeated the Boston Bruins.

The Habs have defeated the Boston Bruins.

This is not a really IS beginning to sound like a broken record.

Montreal pushed it's winning streak vs. Boston in the regular season to 12 games by defeating the Bruins 4-3 via shootout. Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Maxim Lapierre all scored for Montreal in the first period, just 3:19 apart to put Montreal up 3-0.

Boston played catch-up the rest of the way, eventually tying the game on Marc Savard's right-place-right-time second goal of the night with 48 seconds remaining in regulation.

Overtime solved nothing, and in the shootout, Alex Tanguay played the hero, scoring the only goal to secure the extra point for Montreal.

Other newcomer Georges Laraque made his Habs debut Wednesday night, and wouldn't you know it, he dropped the gloves almost immediately on his first shift, going toe-to-toe with Bruins pest Shawn Thornton. Thornton was a marked man after mouthing off towards coach Guy Carbonneau in pre-game media interview.

Montreal was 1-for-4 on the powerplay; Boston went 1-for-6.

Carey Price outdueled Tim Thomas to pick up the win between the pipes. Price improves to 6-0-0 vs. Boston in regular season play.

Montreal was outshot by Boston 34-28.

Michael Ryder's dump-in late in the third took a weird bounce off the glass, causing the puck to bounce into the crease with Carey Price out of the net. That's how Marc Savard was able to score and send the game into OT. Ryder finished with the single assist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Habs Open Season At Home Tonight vs. Bruins

The Montreal Canadiens open up their centennial season at home tonight after garnering 5 of 6 possible points on the road in Buffalo (2-1 OTL), Toronto(6-1 W) and Philadelphia (5-3 W).

The only roster change for the night will see Steve Begin sitting out and new addition Georges Laraque suiting up for his very first game in a Habs uniform.

After being declared unfit to play yesterday, "Big Georges" apparently made great progress overnight and today, and coach Carbonneau felt safe enough inserting him into the lineup.

Carey Price will start in goal for Montreal.

The game can be seen live tonight on TSN and RDS, both in HD.

Montreal has not dropped a game vs. Boston in 12 regular season outings - a span of over 19 months!

Montreal did however escape by the skin of their teeth vs. Boston in round one of postseason action last year, edging out the Bruins in 7 games.

Price has never lost to Boston in the regular season, going 5-0-0 with a 2.17 goals-against average.

All eyes will be on Michael Ryder tonight. Ryder will be playing his first game in Montreal as an opponent after spending his first four NHL seasons with the Canadiens, scoring 207 points.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Investigation To Follow On Cherepanov Death

click the title of this to link to's story from the Canadian Press.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Alexei Cherepanov Dies After Heart Stoppage

New York Rangers prospect and top pick of 2007 (17th overall) Alexei Cherepanov collapsed and died on the bench of his Avangard Omsk team in the Russian KHL.

Prior to being drafted, many had Cherepanov as going in the top 5. He slipped to 17, where the Rangers couldn't believe the steal they were allowed to pull.

Cherepanov, playing alongside Jaromir Jagr in Omsk, had 8 goals and 12 assists in the season through 15 games. He was in his third season with the club. He had scored that night.

"We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei," said Rangers General Manager Glen Sather. "On behalf of the New York Rangers organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family. Alexei was an intelligent, energetic young man, with tremendous talent and an extremely bright future."

Cherepanov was the top-ranked European skater heading into his draft year, and backed up his credentials with 29 points in 47 games with Omsk when it played in the Russian Super League. He had more points than Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin as an RSL rookie, and his 18 goals in 2006-07 broke Pavel Bure's RSL rookie scoring record of 17.

Cherepanov represented Russia at numerous international tournaments. He was named the best forward at the 2007 World Junior Championships after he finished with a tournament-high 5 goals, and his 8 points led the Russian team in scoring and to the silver medal. He had 3 goals and 6 points in six games at the 2008 WJC as Russia won the bronze.

with files from's Adam Kimelman.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Habs Score Six En Route To First Win

Alex Tanguay and co. delivered last night in Toronto. <photo courtesy>

What a difference 24 hours makes.

The Montreal Canadiens rebounded from a tough 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo just 24 hours prior, destroying the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 6-1.

Newcomer Alex Tanguay attributed his "average" performance in Buffalo to nerves, but he was able to shake away the butterflies last night, tallying a power-play goal and three assists (two on the power-play).

The game really exploded in the second period.

Montreal took a 2 goal lead into the second frame, and then added 3 more - all on the powerplay - in just 5:28. Young Sergei Kostitsyn had his best game in Habs colors, scoring twice on the PP and adding an assist on the other scored by Tanguay.

Kostitsyn tried beating Curtis Joseph on a breakaway in the third for the hat trick, but was denied the five-hole. Joseph started the third in relief of Vesa Toskala, who allowed all six goals on 23 shots.

Guillaume Latendresse rebounded from a lacklustre performance in Buffalo, scoring a goal on an absoultely sublime feed from captain Saku Koivu to cap the scoring. He also had two assists, one on the powerplay. Roman Hamrlik was rewarded with his hard work in Buffalo, scoring the game's opening goal midway through the first.

Montreal finished 3-for-7 on the powerplay, adding the other three at even strength.

Jaroslav Halak had a very good game in goal, turning aside all but one of the 25 shots fired his way.

Alex Kovalev had the other goal not mentionned above - it was the game winner. He coralled a great setup from Plekanec in 'Gretzky's office' to score just above the crease and with Leafs on his back.