Sunday, February 3, 2008

Resillience Key To Rangers' Victory...+ New Habs Trade Rumours

Chris Drury had the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, and the Rangers scored five unanswered goals in a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens were the hotter team in the early going. Montreal dominated and dictated play throughout the first in a period that saw them go up 2-0 on powerplay goals from Markov and Kovalev.

Things got really interesting in the second period. Sergei Kostitsyn was hooked from behind on a breakaway, the ref raised him arm, and when the Rangers got control of the puck, he pointed to centre ice indicating a penalty shot for the young Kostitsyn. Sergei moved in on Lundqvist, dead center, and decided to release a perfectly placed wrister from 10-15 feet out that beat Lundqvist over the glove for a water-bottle rocking tally.

That's when the Rangers woke up.

Just about 3 minutes later, Michael Rozsival was able to sneak one past Huet on a point blast that had eyes for the twine. 24 seconds later, it was Brandon Dubinsky's turn, as he was able to beat Huet for an unassisted marker, making it a 1-goal game.

A little later, Alex Kovalev threw an elbow into Ryan Hollweg's mouth on a forecheck. The hit (which was late) was definitely penalty-worthy, but went un-noticed by the referees. The CBC (where I watched today's game) was then focussing on Hollweg who was on the bench as they went to commercial, and it showed a view of Hollweg that indicated that he had revenge on his mind, as his eyebrows were lowered and his mouth formed a frown.

Before Hollweg got back on the ice for a shift, Scott Gomez was able to score on a beaten Huet from in close. Gomez was wide open because Markov had lost his stick on the shift and would have had a perfect opportunity to clear the zone. Instead, Gomez collected the puck and buried it for the easy tying goal.

Next shift, Hollweg was on the ice. The puck came around the boards to Sergei Kostitsyn, who had his back to the play. Hollweg charged in, and in disgusting fashion, laid out the prone and unsuspecting Sergei from behind into the boards. Sergei collapsed in a heap to the ice, and Hollweg, fully aware of what he had done, showed no remorce, and simply prepared himself to be rushed by a Hab player on the ice. Josh Gorges was that player, as he was closest to the play. Francis Bouillon and Colton Orr dropped the gloves in a tilt of their own, and when all was said and done, Hollweg was ejected from the game on top of receiving a 5 minute boarding major, and Gorges was dealt a 2-minute roughing minor, sending the Habs on a 3 minute powerplay, that they eventually would fail to cash in on. Sergei Kostitsyn would stay in the game after shaking off the cobwebs.

Midway through the third, Chris Drury converted a perfect pass from Nigel Dawes as he beat Huet backdoor for what would be the eventual game-winner. Marty Straka added one with 1:30 remaining, and with Huet still in the net.

No penalties were taken in the third period. Andrei Markov pushed his points streak to 6 games with the unassisted PPG. The Rangers outshot Montreal 30-28. Expect Ryan Hollweg to be suspended in the next 24 hours, likely for over 5 games. There is also a possibility of a Kovalev suspension for his elbow to Hollweg, though it would likely be for a maximum of one game.

The Habs next face Ottawa at home Tuesday, Toronto at home Thursday, and visit Ottawa Saturday for a Northeast Division-focused week. Montreal sit 3 points back of Ottawa and both teams have played 53 games.

Other notes:
-The Canadiens have demoted Jaroslav Halak to Hamilton. They have not yet recalled another goaltender, but an educated guess would have Carey Price being recalled over Yann Danis, as Price has had tremendous success vs. the Maple Leafs this season. Halak did not appear in a single game since being called up. Carey Price is fresh off his first career AHL regular season shutout game, as he blanked all shots fired his way against the Manitoba Moose in a 2-0 Bulldogs win.

-Michael Ryder was scratched for Sunday's game, and new rumours are surfacing about possible deals. With the Habs reportedly interested in Jokinen, Fedorov and Hossa, you can now add the Nashville Predators as possible trade partners. Rumours suggest that the Habs are interested in defensive-minded defense prospect Kevin Klein, and a possible three way deal could be in the works between Mtl-Nashville-and Carolina. The predators are reportedly interested in Erik Cole, and with an overstock of young prospectual defensemen, Nashville are definitely looking to upgrade on offense. We'll keep an eye on this situation as it develops.

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