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Habs Report

by Archives March 11, 2008

I guess they call it the Wild Wild West for a reason! After getting schooled by the Sharks on Monday, the Habs were happy to return to their recent success midweek against Phoenix and Los Angeles. Their western tour didn’t end there though, as the Habs faced off in a losing battle against the defending cup champion Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.
Monday’s game against San Jose meant an encounter with widely loved ex-Hab Craig Rivet. Rivet played with the Habs from 1994 to 2007 before he was traded to the Sharks for defencemen Josh Gorges. Rivet is generally remembered in Montreal as being a first-class guy who truly loved playing for the Habs.
Monday’s game started at an irregular hour for local fans, who tried to stay awake for the first period at 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. As tired as Montreal fans may have been, their efforts to stay awake far surpassed the effort made by the team during the game.
Jetlag was thrown in as an excuse. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that they didn’t show up for the match, which they lost 6-4. Despite two nice goals from Tomas Plekanec, who has been playing like a champion all season; one from Maxim Lapierre, and Ryan O’Byrne’s first NHL goal, it wasn’t enough to stop the surging Sharks.
Thursday’s match-up was against Wayne Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes. The game saw a great effort by the Habs, who appeared to be recovered from their jetlag.
Plekanec was at it again on Thursday, netting a gorgeous goal six minutes into the second period from Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov. Captain Saku Koivu batted one in during the third frame, which also saw goals from Markov and Sergei Kostitsyn. The Markov and Kostitsyn goals were by far the nicest plays of the game. A sneaky pass from Kovalev assisted Markov, while Kostitsyn got help from Christopher Higgins and Josh Gorges.
The play that Higgins and Kostitsyn managed to pull off was just artwork, if you can find the highlight online, I highly recommend checking it out. Despite not scoring, Kovalev was rightfully named the third star of the game, as he assisted on three goals and was a physical presence throughout the 60 minutes to lead the team to the 4-2 victory. Carey Price also redeemed himself after Monday’s romp with a huge performance for the team, earning him first star of the match.
The success continued on Saturday, when backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak won his first start of the season against the Los Angeles Kings. Five separate Habs managed to get goals, including Guillaume Latendresse, who hadn’t scored since Jan. 31 against Washington. The other four goals came from Patrice Brisebois, Koivu, Kostitsyn and Tom Kostopoulos. Mike Komisarek’s presence was undeniable during this game. He moved swiftly across the ice to get some huge hits, and made key passes through the match, earning himself second star of the night. Halak rightfully took top spot by stopping 35 shots as the Habs took the win.
Unfortunately, the Canadiens couldn’t extend it to three, as the Habs lost to the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks. This was an odd game. The Habs had a great first period that was marred by an ugly and really strange goal from the Ducks; it took officials all of seven minutes to determine it actually was a goal. Kovalev tied it up six minutes later on a goal that started by Mikhail Grabovski. It wasn’t enough though. Despite some great chances, and the fact that Price played really well, the Habs fell to the Ducks 3-1. I guess if you’re going to lose, it might as well be to the champions.
With a faceoff against conference leading New Jersey tonight, the Habs are hoping to distance themselves from teams like Ottawa and Pittsburgh who continue to nip at their heels. A match up this Thursday against Ottawa, who has been struggling as of late, hopefully will widen the distance further before the Habs play the New York Islanders on Saturday. Be sure to check back next week for ongoing recaps and analysis as the race to the playoffs comes into full swing.

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