Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Ball Is Back In Ottawa's Court

Jaroslav Halak improved his career home-ice record to 8-0, stopping all 30 shots he faced vs. the Islanders Saturday night for his 3rd career shutout.

The Montreal Canadiens were able to complete the season-series sweep of the Islanders for the first time in 11 years Saturday night by defeating New York 3-0. The win now places Montreal ahead of Ottawa by 2 points, putting the ball in Ottawa's court to try and go for the 2-pointer today in Carolina. The Sens are currently trailing Carolina 2-1 early in the 2nd period.

Jaroslav Halak got his 2nd start of the season since last starting 7 nights ago, earning a win in a 5-2 tilt with the L.A. Kings. Halak came up with 30 stops last night but was only truly tested on 4 or 5 occasions. It was Halak's first start at home in over a calendar year, and he was able to earn his 3rd NHL shutout. Halak has yet to lose at the Bell Centre, as he is now 8-0, having gone 7-0 as a rookie last year.

The Habs opened the scoring in the 2nd period as they were finally able to score on the powerplay, a feat they hadn't been able to accomplish lately, having gone 0-for-10 in their 4 previous games combined. Hamrlik pinched in and snapped home a rebound off a Chris Higgins shot that had been turned aside by the right pad of DiPietro.

In the third period, Alex Kovalev gave the Canadiens some insurance, converting on a 2-on-1 with Tomas Plekanec that all started off a scramble in Halak's crease. Bill Guerin threw a pass towards the crease from below Montreal's goal line and Halak got a stick to it, but wasn't able to freeze it despite his attempts to. Luckily so, in fact, because Andrei Kostitsyn would come up with the loose puck and would spring Plekanec on a 2-on-1 with Kovalev with a quick pass. Plekanec stickhandled in, drew as much attention as he could from DiPietro, then sent a saucer pass over to Kovalev right on the tape, and Kovalev - who took an extra second to make sure DiPietro wouldn't slide across and pull off a miracle save - potted the puck in the far top corner.

With just over 2 minutes remaining, Saku Koivu sent a beautiful pass off the boards that rebounded perfectly to reach Guillaume Latendresse, who would snap one low-blocker side on DiPietro, beating him on the angled partial breakaway.

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