When times get tough for the Montreal Canadiens, there is just nothing like a date with the division rival Boston Bruins to cure any offensive ailments.
The Habs rattled Boston for 8 goals in an 8-2 victory, the third time this season that the Habs offense has ignited for over 7 goals. 2 of those times, the Habs played host to the Boston Bruins. They were polite in the process on Tuesday, leaving Alex Auld and Tim Thomas to share the honours of allowing 4 goals a piece. Montreal was also interested in sharing something else: The goalscoring. Only Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice, one for each goaltender, and each line was able to figure in on the scoring in the FIRST PERIOD alone!
Tom Kostopoulos scored so early in the first period, tempting me to use the phrase "if you blinked, you missed it". It took 14 seconds for T.K. to score on a Steve Begin deflected shot. Tom reached for the puck, spun around, and fired into the gaping cage, as Auld was off position by a mile by having committed to a Begin shot. Ryder then tipped home a Koivu wrist shot just 2:58 later to double the Habs advantage to 2 goals. After Boston halved the deficit on a Marco Sturm rebound goal, the Habs shifted into top gear again, answering the Boston tally with goals by Andrei Kostitsyn and Maxim Lapierre. All of this went down in period #1.
The second period allowed for 2 more Canadiens goals. First, Steve Begin played a pass from behind the net onto the stick of Bryan Smolinski, who made no mistake one-timing a wrister from atop the crease into the top corner, passed relief goaltender Tim Thomas. Tom Kostpoulos got an assist on that goal as well, which should be remembered for a little later...
Mike Komisarek then made it 6-1, finishing off a beautiful passing play.
A.K. 46 fed Komisarek at the point, who threw one down low along the boards to the awaiting Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec drew two Bruins players' attention to him, then returned the feed to the pinching Komisarek, who coralled the puck and released a wrister that beat Thomas 5-hole. Thomas was visibly upset with the coverage (or lack-there-of) on Plekanec, flailing his arms wildly and staring to the heavens.
Tempers flared after this point. Sergei Kostitsyn caught David Kreijci with an open ice hip-check, which in turn led Zdeno Chara to cross-check Sergei down to the ice from behind. Sergei had enough time to get back to his skates before Chuck Kobasew came out of nowhere, dropping the gloves and going after the young Kostitsyn. Sergei held his own pretty well in the tilt, and had to face a fighter in Kobasew who did not remove his helmet with visor.
Kovalev then added to the scoring on the powerplay, taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Mark Streit, and sending a partially fanned butterfly slapshot towards the goalie. The puck went off of Aaron Ward's knee, and re-directed into the net, giving the Habs the 7-1 lead.
Now, back to Kostopoulos...
Steve Begin was playing a puck in his own zone with his back to his blue line, when Shane Hnidy activated from defense and laid an absolutely class-less hit from behind into Begin, who had to leave his first game back from a shoulder injury with what seems to be a re-aggravation of the same left shoulder. As the play ensued, linemate Tom Kostopoulos came with a full head of steam at Hnidy, dropping the gloves and standing up for his teammate.
In case it has slipped by you........ Tom Kostopoulos recorded a goal, an assist, and a fight. That's right, a Gordie Howe Hat-Trick for T.K.!
Nokelainen and Kostitsyn exchanged goals before the end of the game, as the Habs wrapped up their 9th straight victory over the Bruins, and improved their perfect record versus the Bruins this season to 6-0-0.
Tom Kostopoulos was apparently surprised with his 1st star nomination, as he came onto the ice in shorts and skates after having been sent to the locker room for his 10 minute misconduct penalty for his fight with Hnidy, which occured with 8:44 remaining in regulation. In a nice display of fan appreciation, the fan-favorite gave away two hockey sticks to two lucky members of the crowd during his 1st star salute.
The game wasn't without it's controversy though. Mathieu Dandeneault sounded off prior to the game, indicating his unhappiness with being sat out for yet another game. He made clear that he was not requesting a trade, but said he would be upset even further should he be scratched again this season. With the way the Habs played tonight, all signs point to Carbonneau sticking with his current lineup, which will certainly create a buzz over the next couple of days. The Habs travel to New Jersey to face a red-hot Devils team on Thursday. The Devils were on the winning end of a 7-3 rout on Tuesday night as well, this one coming against their own division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
It is reported that Begin's injury isn't as serious as initially feared, as a quick analysis suggests that it is only a pinched nerve. Details should be made clearer tomorrow as Begin will receive a scan to detect for any damage.
What did you think about the game? Would you make any changes to the lineup for Thursday's road game? Comment below!