Montreal 2 Ottawa 3 (Bell Centre)
posted by Rocket
The news came just before game time and it was devastating for Canadiens' fans. Mathieu Schneider will have shoulder surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff and will be out for the rest of the season. Andrei Markov will be out of the lineup for three weeks with his left knee injury. Both players were hurt in Saturday night's game against the Leafs.
Markov has been the Habs leading scorer all season (until tied by Alex Kovalev tonight). Markov is the team's most valuable player and leader in ice time. He will be missed.
Schneider has provided puck moving ability and a point shot on the power-play.
The Canadiens defense has been their weakness this season and tonight they were forced to dress Patrice Brisebois, Ryan O'Byrne, and Bulldog call-up Doug Janik.
The effect of Markov and Schneider out of the lineup was immediately felt. The Habs had trouble clearing the zone and moving the puck up ice. Poor passing seemed to be a problem all night.
The powerplay which had been so effective in recent games went 0-for-3. Brisebois is not the answer on the PP point. He telegraphs his slow passes, and his shot to the net is weak. Perhaps Sergei Kostitsyn will be able to return soon. It is a position he has played before and he can be effective.
One really has to question Georges Laraque's presence on a 5-on-3 power-play chance.
Penalty killing was good led by Chris Higgins and Mathieu Dandenault. Ottawa scored their only power play goal on five opportunities while the Habs' second penalty-killing unit was on the ice. Higgins was hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway. He couldn't score when awarded a penalty shot.
Discipline was a problem tonight for the Canadiens. O'Byrne negated a powerplay chance by taking a penalty. O'Byrne had received an undeserved four minute penalty earlier. At an important time in the third, the Habs lost Lapierre for five minutes when he engaged in a selfish, meaningless fight.
With the defense weakened the Habs needed a solid effort from their goaltender and they didn't get it. Jaroslav Halak was coming off two easy wins against the Islanders and Leafs where he had quiet nights. Tonight was a more formidable challenge.
Halak had a shaky first period in which he looked nervous. Several times he lost his angle and positioning in front of his net. Halak was much better in the second period. He probably can't be faulted on the first two Senator goals but being down so early on his knees limits his lateral movement. The third goal was soft, a wrist shot from beyond the circle that beat Halak on the glove side. He has given up far too many similar goals in his past few starts.
Doug Janik turned the puck over on the winning goal but prior to that had played a simple, competent game.
Koivu, Kovalev, and Tanguay continued their strong play but it wasn't enough.
The Canadiens fifth leading scorer, Andrei Kostitsyn, should return from the press box for the game against the Rangers.
With the loss, the Habs gave up a chance to move into sixth place. They remain three points up on the Rangers and Panthers, and one back of the Penguins.
Jaroslav Halak and Alex Auld started in goal.
Andrei Kostitsyn, and D'Agostini were scratched from the line-up. Price returned from the flu and was the backup. Sergei Kostitsyn was out with an upper body injury. Bouillon and Lang are on injured reserve.
Schneider requires surgery and is out for the season.
Markov will be out at least three weeks.
Doug Janik was called up from Hamilton.
Rocket's three stars:
1. Dany Heatley
2. Alex Kovalev
3. Chris Higgins
(photo credit: CP, Ryan Remiorz )