Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Struck Late By Lightning

Huet was SPECTACULAR in this game...unfortunately, the Habs lost in regulation, extending the losing streak to 3 games as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a 3-2 score.

Vaclav Prospal had the tying and game-winning goals in this one. His game winner came with 8:09 remaining in the 3rd, and gave Tampa their first lead of the match.

Chris Higgins opened the scoring (and broke a slump in the process) just 50 seconds in, as he took a 2 line lob pass from Andrei Markov which sprung him on a clear cut breakaway. Using a wide outtie-innie fake to get Ramo sliding the wrong way, Higgins was able to easily bury the puck passed the red-line into the vacated net.

Shortly thereafter, Tomas Plekanec collected a loose puck and sprung himself on a shorthanded breakaway. He came in with speed, and as Ramo went down with a poke-check, Plekanec released a wrister but was denied by the pre-positionned right pad. As cliché as it's going to sound, it has to be said: This game may have been a different result had he scored there on the penalty kill.

Instead, Tampa were able to tie the game on a rebound goal potted by Rimouski, Quebec native Michel Ouellet.

The 3rd goal of this game came at the 9:48 mark of the 1st, as Mike Komisarek was able to earn his team a powerplay after CRUNCHING Nick Tarnasky into the boards and having Andre Roy step in to take an interference penalty.

On that powerplay, Mark Streit was able to lug the puck coast to coast, flip it in along the boards to get by Boyle, and center it out front to a streaking Plekanec for the one-timed wrister that beat Ramo.

With 40 seconds remaining in the 1st, Vaclav Prospal got his first of two as he took a feed from Lecavalier and let go a wrister that beat Huet 5-hole.

No goals to report in the 2nd period, but a whole LOT of nice saves from both goaltenders, but mainly from Cristobal Huet, as he came up with his most notable saves on Jan Hlavac (twice) and Craig MacDonald.

In the third, Prospal would notch the eventual game winner by converting a feed from Vinny Lecavalier, who really grinded for the assist. Pressuring Markov behind the Habs' net, Lecavalier came up with, lost, and came up with the puck once more, stealing it away from Markov using a savvy combination of slashes and sticklifts. Instinctively, he threw the puck out front, right on the tape of the unmarked Prospal, who outwaited Huet into a flinch and released a wrister that Huet had gotten a piece of, but not enough to keep it from trickling home.

The rest of the game was highlighted by some more miraculous saves. Huet came up with 3 more clutch saves to keep it a one goal game, including the stellar stop on a tic-tac-toe combination from the big line that ended up having St.Louis stopped on the doorstep on a cross-ice feed.

With time winding down, Lecavalier caught Kovalev with an elbow, and Kovy retaliated, throwing a punch towards Lecavalier. Both were sent off with roughing minors, and action went to 4-on-4. With the extra ice, and Huet already on the bench, the Habs nearly capitalized a couple of times, but Karri Ramo came up with the game-saver. With under 20 seconds to play, Andrei Kostitsyn went cross-ice down low and hit brother Sergei perfectly on the tape, but Sergei failed to get a lot of mustard on the chance, and Ramo was able to move laterally quickly enough to come up with the save - despite being unsure of where the puck lay. It would eventual be blown down as a frozen puck, and the Lightning would survive the late surge to hang on for the win.

Tampa outshot Montreal 36-21. The shots were 9-9 after one, but then Tampa turned it on, outshooting Montreal 10-4 and 17-8 over the course of the final two periods, respectively.

The Habs play again tomorrow night, as they visit the Panthers to finish off the road trip. Florida are fresh off a 5-3 loss Sunday in Buffalo which saw them lose Richard Zednik - who is expected to be out for the rest of the season - due to a freak skate-to-throat incident. That game is schedule for 7:30 pm.

Contrary to the pregame report, Mathieu Dandenault did dress for this game. The scratches were Kostopoulos and Begin, with Hamrlik missing his 4th consecutive game with the flu.

No comments: