They came, they saw and they conquered.
The Montreal Canadiens had the chance to redeem themselves after the counter-performances they had recently. Most of all, they were one point away from clinching the division title. A division championship is amazing, with a shutout it feels even greater. Against the Ottawa Senators, it is the jackpot.
Alexei Kovalev currently wears the "C" as in Captain, Champion, puck-Carrier; you choose. He showed the right way to his team, with a goal on a 5-on-3, in the first. Mathieu Dandenault followed the path in the second, and Andrei Kostitsyn closed the score in the third on another power play.The injuries may be numerous, but so are Carey Price's achievements. With 32 saves, he got his third career shutout. The first was against Philadelphia, and the second against New Jersey. Since Cristobal Huet's trade, Price has been improving to 10-3. With great power comes great responsibility, and the young goalie is up for the challenge.
In the second, he had to defend himself against Senators Chris Neil, standing right under his nose. Two seconds before the end of the game, he went with the amazing glove save to keep the shutout. At that moment, the Habs fans in Ottawa were chanting "Ole! Ole!", as most of the Senators fans already left the arena. Feels like home ...
A few more things regarding tonight's game:
-It is the first time since 1993 that the Habs have a 100-point season. Carey Price, Sergei Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse were six years old.
-Alexei Kovalev is the first Montreal player to score 35 or more goals since Vincent Damphousse, back in 1996. He is one goal away to double last year's performance (18). Talking about a rebirth !
-Andrei Markov got his first NHL fight. The chosen one for the honour: Jason Spezza. Make a wish !
-Guillaume Latendresse can actually skate fast ! He has beaten Mike Commodore on the speed contest in the first period, which led to a holding penalty call to the Senators defense-man. Usually, it takes him forever to get to the other side. Hopefully, he will keep going this way.
-Sergei Kostitsyn has been filling Saku Koivu's position in the lineup tonight. Personally, I would have gone for Chris Higgins. Plus, Andrei's young bro still needs improvements on the face-offs.
-If there was an NHL award for the "disturber" of the year, I would consider Chris Neil as a serious candidate. Roman Hamrlik, Sergei Kostitsyn and Carey Price can testify. I secretly dream about a Senators-Rangers round, along with Sean Avery ! Hehe !
Now, a little quizz: what is going on with the Ottawa Senators?
- Ray Emery butterfly effect
- Brian Murray coaching
- Martin Gerber's lost momentum
- Everyone's counting on Spezza-Heatley-Alfie to score them all
- They miss Corvo and Eaves !
- All of the above
But don't ask Jason Spezza, he would say "that's a bullshit" !
Taking a look at the playoff push, the Buffalo Sabres are still alive. In each and every game, it seems the ground will break under their feet, but they still hang on. They are in Montreal on Thursday. It ain't over till it's over, right ?
For the Capitals, Cristobal Huet just registered his 7th straight win, while "Olie the Goalie" is having a new best friend forever - the bench. Washington is now tied with Carolina in the Southeast division.
A little last for the road: what should be the plan for the last two games ?
- Give the net to Halak so Price can breathe a little bit
- Keep Price in the net to get him ready for the playoffs
- Put Koivu in the net for conditioning !
- Put Olaf Kolzig so he can get some time on ice !
- Ask Jonathan Roy to prepare the young guys for the playoffs brawls !
Montreal, may the power(-play) be with you.