Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Habs Win; Look To Seal Deal At Home

Patrice Brisebois celebrates his powerplay goal late in the 2nd period; It would hold up as the game-winner.

The Montreal Canadiens must be very relieved to have escaped game 4 in Boston with a win as they are now up 3 games to 1 on a Boston team that gave it their all to try to even the series.

The Bruins once again played with more intesnsity than the Habs for the most part of this game, but were denied in their 60 minute quest for a single goal as Carey Price's star shined brightly once again, making 27 saves in the win.

Despite what many fans and columnists alike are saying, I believe that this game wasn't a solid team performance. From what I saw, the Habs weren't playing the style of hockey that brought them to an Eastern Conference regular season crown; they were dumping and chasing, not finishing their checks on every opportunity, and setting up & exectuing very poorly on the powerplay (despite Brisebois' PPG with 42 seconds remaining in the 2nd). The Habs were basically trying to play Boston Bruins hockey, but were not playing it right at all and were lucky to keep Boston off the board.

Boston missed two glorious, sure-goal opportunities in the first; one player missed an open-net, and David Krejci failed to connect on a 2-on-0 taking a feed from Marco Sturm and redirecting it wide.

Steve Begin took a terrible penalty at the very end of the 2nd period on a harmless carry from Milan Lucic in the neutral zone with under 10 seconds to play, but lady luck was on Montreal's side this time around, as the Bruins failed to cash in and tie the game.

The Habs did shape up when it mattered most, however; as down the stretch and into the final 10 minutes of play, they really cracked down on defense. They provided Carey Price with all the assistance he would need en route to helping him record his first career NHL playoffs shutout, including a fantastic, selfless play by Roman Hamrlik who acted like a goalie himself in the dying seconds of the game to partially block a shot from in close as the B's pressured with Thomas on the bench for the extra attacker.

Prior to all that and with about 12 minutes to go, the Habs had a great chance to practically put the game away early, as Tom Kostopoulos broke the zone and floated a drop-pass to Steve Begin who would patiently skate in on Thomas, outwait him, and would try a pass back to Kostopoulos in the crease area for an easy slam dunk goal - only problem was that Marc Savard stood between them, and with Thomas down and out, Savard managed to make a goal-line interception and clearance.

Montreal are now 2-for-21 on the powerplay. Tom Kostopoulos had another standout game, his 4th out of 4 career playoff games, all played this season.

Boston will look to send the series back to Boston for game 6 Saturday by winning in Montreal in game 5 which goes Thursday night. Price is 15-4 since general manager Bob Gainey traded goalie Cristobal Huet to Washington on Feb. 26. And he's allowed just seven goals in his last seven games.

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