Monday, March 24, 2008

Habs Score 7 In Win; Clinch Playoff Berth

Martin Gerber (above) and Ray Emery fought the puck all night long, allowing a combined 7 goals to Montreal, including this one to Chris Higgins in the 1st period.

The Montreal Canadiens survived a 4-goal rally in the 3rd period by the Ottawa Senators to hold on for the 7-5 win vs. the Senators, clinching a playoff berth and extending their lead over Ottawa to 7 points in the process.

The floodgates opened up early for Montreal, and eventually opened up for Ottawa as well.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice in the first period (including once on the powerplay), and Chris Higgins added one in between those two to spring the Habs ahead by 3 vs. their kryptonic rivals.

Ottawa would start the 2nd period with a change in personnel, as Martin Gerber got the hook from coach Murray and Ray Emery strapped up for relief action.

The Sens would get one back midway through the 2nd courtesy Antoine Vermette on a Carey Price giveaway, but that goal seemed to furth spark the Habs' offensive machine, as Montreal would add 4 more before the second period's end to lead the game 7-1. The goals came from Bouillon, Markov (PPG), Grabovski and Kostopoulos (SHG).

Clearly, the match seemed out of hand for Ottawa, and the scoring appeared to be destined for double digits on the Habs' half of the scoreboard, no matter who was manning the pipes for the Sens.

But disaster would strike... well, nearly.

The Sens would get goals early and often in the 1st half of the 3rd period, scoring 3 times to reduce the differential in goals to 3. Dany Heatley got it started, Martin Lapointe followed up, and Heatley contributed again before the 10 minute mark hit.

It was nearly time to push the panic button, but Carey Price (despite the onslaught) did his job even with the defensive breakdown in effect, making key saves on Dany Heatley and Antoine Vermette in tight.

The Sens would add one more with slightly under 2 minutes remaining, as Jason Spezza redirected a Cory Stillman slapper on the powerplay to get the Sens in goalie-pulling territory, but the Senators ran out of time to complete the impressive comeback, losing 7-5.

The refereeing seemed to be a little lenient towards Ottawa and a little harsh towards the Canadiens, but all in all, Montreal were able to hold on for the regulation win, which can go a long way from now to the end of the regular season in determining who will win the Northeast Division (and possibly the Eastern Conference) championships.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped a 4-1 decision on Long Island to allow the Habs to earn a 3 point separation on them for 1st in the East.

The Habs are off until they visit Buffalo Friday at the HSBC Center.


x-ine said...

I don't know about you, but I was holding my breath all through the 3rd period. That was close ... a little too close. And the penalties! Man, oh, man ... luckily there wasn't enough time left for a comeback, like the night the Habs blew the Rangers out of the water.

At least something can be taken from all this: the Habs CAN beat the Sens, but the Sens still know how to manhandle the Habs...

sasabainga said...

I was pretty nervous at 7-4, I will admit it. The only thing I had on my mind was "now I know how the Rangers felt", but at least it didn't get that far, thank the sweet Lord.

To be honest, I believe that the way Ottawa were playing in the third, the only thing that happened was that they ran out of time, as you mentionned. Had that comeback started midway through the 2nd, I'm not so sure the Habs would have hung on.

k_cardi said...

i think we're looking into this a little too often did kovalev play in the 3rd?...our big guys were being rested and kept away from possible injuries...its obvious that after a 6 goal lead yer gonna stop skating and that leads to some extra penalties...i wasn't worried about a loss, but i did think that the sens would reach 7-6...anyhow, the 3rd period rally did make things bittersweet but lets call a spade a spade...HABS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!...and we did it by beating a team who have been on our asses all year...they did score 5 goals against us...but we scored 7!!