The Habs were able to open the scoring, but Toronto responded with 3 unanswered goals, including the 3rd back-breaking goal from Kyle Wellwood on the PP with 24 seconds remaining in the 2nd period to hold on for a 4-2 win. Darcy Tucker added a couple of goals including the empty netter to seal the deal for the Leafs, who have won their first match against Montreal after dropping 3 straight to even the season series at 3 games a piece.
Montreal opened the scoring on Plekanec's 20th goal of the season, matching his career high set last year. Andrei Kostitsyn got the phantom assist, as he did most of the work but did not figure on the scoresheet. AK 46 got his forecheck going, collected the loose puck on a brilliant dump in from Markov, circled the net, held off his challenge, and got the puck back to Markov, who then threw it towards goal. Kovalev redirected it into Kubina's skates, and as the puck rebounded to Kovalev, he put a pass under Kubina's stick and a little ahead of a wide open and awaiting Plekanec, who had to control the puck skate-to-stick before sliding it five-hole past Vesa Toskala.
Kovalev was able to get a goal tonight as well, as the Leafs failed to convert on a powerplay opportunity. Kovalev realized that he was beaten and out of position on the play, so he decided to bolt up ice and hope for a miracle. That miracle happened, as Carey Price came up with a key stop and Plekanec was able to seize a loose puck and launch it up ice to the awaiting Kovalev, who found himself on a clear cut breakaway (and that's an understatement!) Kovalev kept it simple, yet fancy (as is customary of him), going forehand-to-backhand and shelfing the puck past Toskala to make it a one-goal game early in the third. However, Toskala would hold his ground long enough for Tucker to pot the empty netter and seal the win.
Vesa Toskala registered 34 saves in the win, while counterpart Carey Price had 24. Cristobal Huet will be back between the pipes Saturday in Ottawa as the Habs visit the Sens.
The Senators got the 'W' tonight vs. the Panthers, restoring their 3 point lead over Montreal. They welcomed back (with VERY open arms) Dany Heatley tonight, who had 2 goals and added a helper.
Huet's string of consecutive starts ended tonight at 13. Crisotbal went 9-3-1 in that span.
-- WHAT'S ON MY MIND?... --
And now, to kick off my new feature at the end of all future post-game reports that I like to call "WHAT'S ON MY MIND?", which will be a quick summary of any random event that I have on my mind...
-The game seemed to be lacking in one area specifically tonight: REFEREE-ING! The Habs should have been awarded with many more powerplay chances than they were tonight, and I say this in an impartial stance. To Toronto's credit, some calls went un-noticed their way as well, but certainly not as many as what they got away with tonight. Howver, credit must go where it's due, and as much as I hate to praise the team I despise so greatly, the Leafs simply got the job done with a severely under-manned roster tonight.
-What was Koivu thinking in the last 30 seconds?! Markov sent a pass in his direction as the Habs tagged up on the delayed offside, but Koivu's attention seemed to be on Toronto's bench in front of him for an inexplicable reason. His lack of readiness allowed Tucker to come away with the puck and pot the empty netter. Carbo was then seen shaking his head in disgust...I sense some tension between the two. With the goalie pulled and under a minute to go, Koivu's attention has to be on the puck and not on anything else.
-Mark Streit must hit the net on 1 out of every 7 or 8 blue-line one-timers. His lack of accuracy could cost us in the longrun, and I find it extremely aggitating to endure. He does get the odd slapper to go for goals on some nights, but he should REALLY work on his long range one-timers in practice, for his own and the team's benefit.
-Patrice Brisebois needs to go. That's it.
Feel free to COMMENT on any of the points I mentionned above, or anything at all! I am really enjoying the feedback being left by all of you, so THANK YOU and please keep it coming!