Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leading The East Once Again!

Maxim Lapierre finishes a great setup from Sergei Kostitsyn for his 7th of the season.

Carey Price and Martin Brodeur reversed roles Tuesday night: Carey was the teacher, and Marty was the student.

Price stopped all 38 shots he faced en route to a shutout of the Devils in a 4-0 victory at the Bell Centre to kick off a four-game homestand. Brodeur faced 33 shots, allowing 4 goals.

The Habs (39-23-9) have jumped ahead of the Devils (40-24-6) in the Eastern standings and into first place by a single point; however, the Devils own a game in hand on Montreal.

The Senators kept pace with Montreal, defeating Boston 4-1 Tuesday night to remain 2 points behind their Northeast Division rivals.

The win didn't come as easy as the scoreline suggests Tuesday night.
Carey Price had to be sharp early and consistently in the game, as the Devils peppered him with a barrage of shots, shooting 20 times in the first period alone. The Habs had 14 shots in the period, yet were able to come out of it on top by 2 goals to none. Bryan Smolinski scored the first goal of the game, taking a drop pass from Tom Kostopoulos and catching Brodeur off-guard with a wrister from the far boards, beating Marty high glove side. With under two minutes remaining in the frame, Saku Koivu completed a perfect give-and-go passing play with Sergei Kostitsyn (who had an incredible game) to double the lead to 2-0.

The 2nd period was more of the same, as Price faced (and turned aside) 13 more shots, while Brodeur faced a mere 4 shots on goal, allowing yet another goal.

The 3-0 tally came courtesy Maxim Lapierre on a play where the Devils were caught napping on a bizarre delayed-offside/linechange. A Devils player and a Habs player were tied up near Carey Price's crease, and as the rest of the Devils team looked on, the Canadiens broke the play out the other way, setting up a 3-on-2 situation which eventually boiled down to a 2-on-1.

Sergei Kostitsyn got control of the puck and had Maxim Lapierre on his wing, with defenseman Andy Greene bewteen them. Sergei sent a perfect pass at the last moment through Greene's skates, who made the rookie-esque mistake of guarding the puck carrier rather than the potential recipient. With Greene's and Brodeur's focus on Kostitsyn, Lapierre was wide open for the pass, should it have gotten to him...and it did - right on the tape. Lapierre slam-dunked it home passed a sprawling Brodeur for his 7th of the season.

The Habs decided to come alive on the shot-counter in the third, outshooting the Devils 15-5 in the final stanza.

Michael Ryder added the final goal of the game, whacking home a loose-puck off a Maxim Lapierre rebound which may have had the juice to go in on its own anyway. Ryder did indeed make the right decision by ensuring the puck crossed the line as he tallied his 13th of the year.

The Habs won their first season-series vs. New Jersey since last doing so in the 92-93 season, en route to capturing Lord Stanley's Cup.

A grand total of 4 penalties were called in the game, splitting evenly at 2 per team.

All the talk was about the standout performance put on by Carey Price after the game.

"He was great," Devils forward Zach Pariese said. "He made some unbelievable saves at big parts of the game, when it was 1-0. He was awesome, what else is there to say? He definitely came to play tonight."

''It's impressive to watch him,'' Brodeur conceded. ''We had a lot of good chances. ''What I like is the way he moves to get rebounds and get the puck. His future is very bright. He'll get tested in the next few years with the pressure here.''

The final minute of the game was played throughout a sustained ovation which was punctuated by a load roar from the customary crowd of 21,273 at the final siren. The crowd was as electric as we've seen in a long time, a sound barrier resembling that of a playoff series.

"It's nice to get their support," Price said. "It definitely gets you motivated when they're doing that. It's pretty tough to not be ready for the next shot when you're hearing those kind of screams."

The Canadiens next host the Senators Thursday night with the Division lead on the line, and I'm looking forward to being in attendance at the Bell Centre for that one.


x-ine said...

I am so unbelievably impressed with the way the team has been performing lately. We've suffered for a long time with a generally sub-par team and the fact that they are fighting for first is something I never thought I would see again.

Price was definitely a star last night. Way to go!


sasabainga said...

I agree with your comment on us being a sub-par team over a long period of time, but I don't agree with thinking you would never see 1st in the East again...this team drafts well and there is now way that we won't be an elite team over the next 5-10 years.

And I'll also agree on Price being a star...way to go is right!!!

x-ine said...

heh - my comment about never seeing first again was more of an exaggeration than anything - I was just thinking about how many years the team has barely managed to squeak into the playoffs or not make the playoffs at all.

I do think that there is a bright future ahead - things are looking up for nos Canadiens!


k_cardi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
k_cardi said...

i didnt believe price would get the shutout last night...only becuz him getting the shutout means that Bryan Smolinski technically gets the winner....GO SMOKE

sasabainga said...

The French cleaning guy at the bar calls Smolinski "Suminski" bcz he can't prounce the name...priceless to hear.