Monday, March 10, 2008

Habs Go 2-2 On Pacific Road Trip

Ducks winger Chris Kunitz celebrates scoring the go-ahead goal in a 3-1 Ducks win.

Chris Kunitz scored the go-ahead goal with 7:24 remaining and the Anaheim Ducks tied a franchise record by extending their home winning streak to seven games with a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.

Samuel Pahlsson added a short-handed goal 33 seconds after Kunitz's goal for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who were coming off consecutive shutout losses. Todd Marchant also scored and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 20 saves to win for the 10th time in 12 starts after losing each of his previous five.

Alex Kovalev scored and Carey Price made 34 saves for the Canadiens, who are 9-17-0 with five ties against reigning NHL champions since winning their last Stanley Cup in 1993.

The victory kept Montreal a point behind New Jersey in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Canadiens brought the NHL's most efficient power play into the game against an Anaheim squad that was averaging a league-worst 19.3 penalty minutes. They had four power plays, coming up empty each time. It was just the third time in 15 games that the Habs didn't get a power play goal.

Alex Kovalev notched his 30th of the season in the defeat, as he took a pass from Mikhail Grabovski from beneathe the goal line to one-time a snap shot past J.S. Giguere to tie the game at 1 in the 1st period. Grabovski deserved full marks on the play, as he hustled his way passed a defender to the loose puck and managed to saucers a pass trhough two defenders, all the while luring Giguere away from his post, allowing for the easy Kovalev tally.

Grabovski centered Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn, as Habs centerman Tomas Plekanec missed his 1st of the season as he suffered from the flu. Grabovski played a very good game, and possibly the best amongst all Habs skaters.

The Habs schedule does not get much easier; The Canadiens will face the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night in Montreal to begin a 4-game home-stand, having won the last two meetings by one-goal margins after losing 4-0 at New Jersey on Nov. 30.

They will then host the Ottawa Senators Thursday night, a team they are desperately trying to hold off in the race for top spot in the Northeast Division. They currently lead Ottawa by 2 points, and both teams have 12 games remaining on the schedule as of right now.

The competition will then let up as the Habs host the New York Islanders Saturday. The Isles have fallen to 12th out East and are currently 7 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot.

This report contained extracts from the Associated Press match recap.

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