Friday, March 7, 2008

Price Rebounds In 4-2 Win Over Phoenix

Carey Price stops 37 of 39 vs. the Coyotes en route to a 4-2 win, including this stop on Mike York.

The Habs rallied from 2-1 down to score to three 3rd period goals to defeat the Coyotes 4-2 in Phoenix Thursday night. The win extends the Habs undefeated streak vs. Phoenix to 9 games, going 6-0-3(ties).

The Canadiens got on the board first in the second period, as Tomas Plekanec was able to fool Mikael Tellqvist through the legs on a wrister from a VERY tight angle along the goal line.

The Coyotes would first reply on a PPG from Shane Doan, as he deflected an Ed Jovanovski point slapper through the legs of cousin Carey Price.

Then, early in the third, Phoenix would jump ahead on another weak goal similar to the one Jody Shelley scored for San Jose 3 nights ago. Zbynek Michalek (younger brother of Sharks forwards Milan), kept the puck alive along the boards by speeding past Mark Streit. He continued his course along the boards, then unloaded a wrister that plain and simply beat Price above the shoulder, as he once again failed to properly hug his post and cover his angles, something he is usually very good for doing consistently. With that softee, the Coyotes had their first lead.

The lead would be shortlived, however, as the Habs would begin the comeback with a PPG from Saku Koivu nearly 3 minutes later. Alex Kovalev sent a puck on goal, which eluded Tellqvist and lay precariously in the crease. Higgins (who cannot buy goals when they are important) swatted at it on two or three occasions, missing it each time before being cleared away from the crease area by a defensemen. Luckily, captain Koivu was also in the mix, trying his luck, and the latter was able to knife the puck into the gaping cage for the equalizer.

Next, and this time just OVER 3 minutes later, Andrei Markov would score on the PP after drawing the penlaty on a Derek Morris slash. Kovalev would once again send a puck towards goal, but not quite ON goal. Instead, it was a direct pass off of the streaking Markov's blade, allowing for a re-direction past Tellqvist to put the Habs up for the 2nd time in the contest, and this time, with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Finally, to cap the evening off, the 4th Habs goal came with 1:41 remaining. As Sergei Kostitsyn collected a loose puck in his own zone, he raced over towards the end boards to begin what should have been a 2-on-2 transitional counter-attack with Chris Higgins. However, something went haywire on the Coytotes defensive duo, and BOTH defenders maintained their posts along the Habs blue line as Kostitsyn easily skated around them. Kostitsyn found himself on a 2-on-0 with Higgins, and, with recovering d-man Keith Yandle lunging for a desperation poke-check attempt, would send a cross-crease pass for Higgins. Higgins could have shot for what could have very likely been a goal then and there; instead, he one-two'ed a return pass on Sergei's tape, allowing Sergei to complete the tic-tac-toe play (despite his obvious surprise from the return feed). That is the second time this season we see such a play from Higgins, as he previously completed the same play with Michael Ryder finishing it off the 1st time a few months ago.

Things got a little rough after this. No gloves were dropped, but Ed Jovanovski would violently check Alex Kovalev in his own zone, before then punching him behind the head. Kovalev wuld hold onto Jovo's stick to aggrevate him further, and Jovo would follow through by jarring his stick loose and then using it to violently slash Kovalev's. Jovo would be penalized 2 minutes for roughing.

Carey Price was stellar all night long, with the lone exception on the Michalek goal. The Coyotes would fire 39 shots his way, as the Sharks did Monday; but Price would cut down his goals allowed from 6 to 2 to draw the win. He also stopped cousin Shane Doan on a breakaway early in the first, before Doan's eventual goal.

Phoenix outshot Montreal each period, 14-5 in the 1st, 16-8 in the 2nd, and 9-7 in the 3rd.

Montreal went 2/5 on the man advantage, while Phoenix went 1/6.

Montreal next faces Los Angeles Saturday at 4 p.m. The Kings stunned the visiting Senators Thursday night, shutting them out 2-0 on goals by Frolov and O'Sullivan. Goaltender Erik Ersberg of Sweden won his first NHL game in his fourth start for L.A., stopping all 40 shots he faced vs. Ottawa for his 1st career NHL shutout.

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