Canadiens-Bruins: Habs Earn Playoff Berth
Montreal 4, Boston 5 OT (TD Banknorth Garden)
posted by Rocket
What a game! It may have been one of the most entertaining games of the year and a gutsy effort by the Habs. It would have been better with a win, but the Canadiens deserved at least one point.
After falling behind 3-1, the Habs battled back to take the lead in the second period with three unanswered goals.
It was a penalty-filled period but also a good frame of hockey. Montreal outshot Boston 15-to-8.
Mathieu Schneider is a warrior and deserves a great deal of credit just for dressing for this game. Somehow, Schneider exceeded expectations again by playing more than 21 minutes and scoring a goal from the point.
Afterwards Schneider said "I felt great out there tonight. I'm just gonna continue to play. There's absolutely nothing that concerns me."
Saku Koivu positioned himself near the crease all night and took a beating from the Bruins defensemen. Kovalev scored a goal and had six shots. Kovalev was double-shifted to help bring a spark to the Lapierre line.
The line of Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and D'Agostini played very well. For Kostitsyn, it was one of his best games in quite some time. He had several scoring chances.
Kostitsyn saved a goal by pulling the puck out of the crease. D'Agostini continued his energetic play from Tuesday's game. D'Agostini had two goals on two shots.
Chris Higgins was a force all night, especially in the third period. He was winning battles for the puck and did an excellent job penalty killing. Glen Metropolit had a strong game against his former team. Yannick Weber had a great game.
In addition to playing very well on the power-play, he had scoring chances as a forward. He was even physical, making a nice hit on Stephane Yelle (something that was absent from Streit's game).
It was a quiet night for the Lapierre line. When Kovalev replaced Kostopoulos, the line had one dominant shift in the third period pressuring the Bruins for a scoring chance.
Lapierre made a terrible play to turn the puck over at the blueline for the Bruins winning goal in overtime. It just wasn't a smart decision. He could have easily chipped the puck out of the zone.
The Habs' defense was much better in this game. Mike Komisarek had five hits and was punishing to Bruins who went to the front of the Canadiens net. Roman Hamrlik played over 27 minutes and had a solid game.
Mathieu Dandenault was used mostly at defense. He had an assist and led the the team in blocked shots but took a costly delay of game penalty. The Bruins scored the tying goal in the third on the ensuing power-play.
The Canadiens power-play was back in form with the additions of Weber and Schneider. The Habs were 3-for-7. Unfortunately the Bruins power-play also scored twice on four chances.
It was a chippy game with lots of scrums after the whistle. The refereeing was disgraceful. There were numerous missed calls, such as Chara crosschecking Lapierre in the face and Chara pounding on Koivu in the slot. The linesman held Komisarek as Chara landed punches but both players only received two minutes.
Some penalty calls were bizarre. As lines were changing Ryan O'Byrne and Shaun Thornton bumped. Thornton dropped the gloves and grabbed O'Byrne.
O'Byrne, wanting to stay out of the box, dropped to his knees. In the end, O'Byrne got 14 minutes in penalties and Thornton received two.
Milan Lucic is a thug and a whiny baby. Apparently he can't take a hit. After a solid bodycheck on Lucic by Komisarek, Thornton went after Mike and started to fight.
Lucic jumped Komisarek and tackled him by the throat from behind. Luic should have been tossed out of the game but only received a 10-minute misconduct.
With all of the cheap shots by the Bruins, some commentators suggested that Gainey should have included Laraque in the lineup. The Bruins are a fast team. Laraque and Brisebois are very slow. Also, if Laraque had played, who comes out of lineup?
Gainey wanted an extra defenseman so Dandenault could be used on defense and Weber on the power play. It was a smart decision by Gainey.
Carey Price was brilliant and made several spectacular saves. Price was definitely the better of the two goaltenders on this night.
The Canadiens have one game left against Pittsburgh on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. A Habs' win and a Rangers loss in their final game would put the Canadiens in seventh place. Otherwise it will be a first round playoff matchup with the Bruins.
Starting lineup: Koivu, Tanguay, Kovalev, Dandenault, Hamrlik
Carey Price and Tim Thomas started in goal.
Stewart, Brisebois and Laraques were scratched from the line-up. Sergei Kostitsyn, and Markov were out with injuries. Bouillon and Lang are on injured reserve.
Yannick Weber was recalled from Hamilton and will play.
Schneider will play with his shoulder injury. Dandenault will start the game playing defense.
Rocket's three stars:
1. Mark Recchi
2. Matt D'Agostini
3. Patrice Bergeron
(photo credit: CP)
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