The Montreal Canadiens are on a roll, winning all three of their games this week. The Habs were in Philadelphia on Monday to take on the team that eliminated them from the post-season last spring.
With Carey Price in nets, the Habs made quick work of the Flyers despite falling behind after the first period. Leading the way with a goal and an assist was Andrei Kostitsyn as the Canadiens took control and won 5-3.
The game featured some nastiness, with the Flyers seemingly taking liberties due to the fact that big Georges Laraque was not yet in the line-up. Maxim Lapierre fought Steve Downie and then after the final whistle had blown in the third, Guillaume Latendresse got into a tussle with Joffrey Lupul. The rough stuff should set up an interesting rematch when the two teams meet again on Nov. 15 at the Bell Centre.
Wednesday’s home opener against Boston was a special event, with the Ring of Honour’s official unveiling. Adorning the upper bowl of the Bell Centre, the Ring features the images and numbers of past Canadiens greats including Jean Béliveau, Larry Robinson and Émile “Butch” Bouchard.
The game itself didn’t disappoint either. Laraque made his debut in front of the home crowd and fought the Bruins’ Shawn Thornton on his first shift. The rust was evident as Laraque was knocked down, but he got back up and the fight ended in a draw.
Montreal wasted little time establishing themselves at home, as they were up three goals before the first period was over. But just like last spring, Boston wouldn’t go away. They fought their way back into the game, and then thanks to a lucky bounce off of the end boards with less than a minute left in the third, they tied the game 3-3.
Overtime solved nothing, and the two teams went to a shootout. Alex Tanguay then showed why Bob Gainey traded to get him in the off-season, beating Tim Thomas with a pretty goal to earn the Habs the win.
Saturday’s game at home against Phoenix showed once again that the Canadiens are picking up from where they left off last season. Tanguay had a pair of goals and Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists as the Canadiens beat the Coyotes 4-1.
But the win was marred by an ugly hit on Andrei Kostitsyn by Phoenix defenceman Kurt Sauer. As Kostitsyn skated along the boards into the Coyotes’ zone, Sauer hit him, driving his head hard into the glass. The older Kostitsyn brother lay motionless on the ice for a few seconds before being helped off by trainers and teammates.
He didn’t take part in the morning skate on Sunday, but coach Guy Carbonneau said he was feeling better and may return to the lineup this Saturday when the Habs host the Anaheim Ducks.
Meanwhile, Carbo says he wants more from his top line. While Koivu’s line with Tanguay and Latendresse has begun to gel and is producing well, Carbo says he wants more from Kovalev, Kostitsyn, and Tomas Plekanec.
Sergei Kostitsyn will take his older brother’s place on the top line for the time being, while the third line combinations have yet to be determined. Francis Bouillon has been cleared by doctors to play, and Christopher Higgins continues to rehab and will likely return to action at some point this week.
It is a relatively light week for the Canadiens. They opened the week with a 3-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Monday night. Jaroslav Halak got the win, and the Habs got goals from Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu and Francis Bouillon. Bouillon was playing his first game of the season.
The Canadiens now have four days off before facing off against the Anaheim Ducks in their fourth of five straight home games.
Editors note: This week’s Habs Report was written by Sean Martin. Megan Martin will return next week.