Bruins-Canadiens: Undermanned Habs Fall Short in Game Three
How does one describe the situation the Canadiens find themselves in after losing tonight and trailing Boston 3-0 in the series? Bob Gainey said it best, "It's the worst situation and the best challenge."
The Habs will simply have to focus on winning Wednesday's game, otherwise, the mountain looks too high to climb.
Even with a depleted lineup, the Canadiens carried the play in the first period. A weak penalty call by the officials on Andrei Kostitsyn threatened to change the momentum, but Carey Price was the Habs' best penalty killer.
Chris Higgins opened the scoring with a wrist shot that beat Tim Thomas under the arm. It was the first lead for the Canadiens in the series.
The Habs almost made it a two-goal lead on a good play by Tomas Plekanec to throw the puck into the feet of Thomas. Thomas was shaky in the period but was able to fall on the puck.
The Bruins scored late in the first period on a play that started when a Mike Komisarek pass to Greg Stewart was intercepted by Dennis Wideman. Stewart didn't even look back as he skated to clear the zone. Wideman's shot was redirected by Phil Kessel.
Bob Gainey said that the Boston goal with 1:25 left in the period was a "punch to the mid-section".
The Canadiens outshot the Bruins 10-7 in the first and were 65 percent on faceoffs. The Habs were far more aggressive on the forecheck and dominated territorial play.
The Bruins made adjustments in the second period and created more scoring chances. The Canadiens' third line had difficulty getting out of their own zone.
Roman Hamrlik had a tough night. He got knocked off the puck by Stephane Yelle. Byron Bitz centered to Shawn Thornton who scored.
Yannick Weber had his first NHL playoff goal with a quick wrist shot that beat Thomas in the five-hole to tie the game at two goals.
With the Canadiens not being able to clear, Price had to make two saves after a shot from the point. He tried to deflect the second one to the boards, but the rebound went to Michael Ryder, who happened to be in the right place and scored.
In the regular season, the Bruins were 39-2-3 when leading after two periods. They showed why in the third, clogging up the neutral zone and limiting the Canadiens chances in order to protect their lead. The Habs only managed five shots in the final period.
The Lapierre line continues to be ineffective. Guillaume Latendresse was given credit for four hits in the first period, but all were delivered after the play had already moved up ice. Tom Kostopoulos was replaced by Chris Higgins in the third. Lapierre was the only Canadiens' player to struggle on faceoffs, at 22 percent.
It was a solid game by Ryan O'Byrne. He intercepted passes, and made quick outs. O'Byrne played a smart, simple game.
Andrei Kostistyn and Alex Kovalev each had four shots on goal playing on a line with Saku Koivu.
The Habs power play had three opportunities but were ineffective and disorganized. "Fans" voiced their displeasure which only put more pressure on the team.
At one time, Canadiens fans were known as the most knowledgeable and intimidating to the opposition.
Times have changed.
In addition to the shameful act of booing a national anthem, some fans seem unfamiliar with the phrase "home ice advantage".
Poor defensive play, an inept power-play, and a lack of scoring from the third line continue to be a problem.
With three-of-five players from the first unit power play being injured (Markov, Tanguay, and Schneider), it is understandable that it is having problem against a very good penalty killing team like Boston.
For those that don't understand how important Andrei Markov is to the team, here's a simple statistic: the Canadiens are 0-6-1 with Markov out of the lineup.
Habs fans recognize the improbability of a comeback being down three games to none. However there is the inspiration of the 1975 New York Islanders who came back from an 0-3 start to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There's also the quote from Voltaire that appeared on the score clock tonight: "Faith is believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe."
Morons in the upper reaches of the Bell Centre booed the Star Spangled Banner. Such small-mindedness. Stay home next game.
"I don't really understand it," said Higgins. "You can chant through it, but the booing thing, it's not really needed. What are they booing the U.S. or that Boston's from the U.S? Either way, it doesn't make sense."
Starting lineup: Metopolit, Higgins, Laraque, Komisarek, Hamrlik
Carey Price and Tim Thomas started in goal.
Brisebois and Sergei Kostitsyn were scratched from the lineup. Markov, Schneider, Bouillon and Tanguay were out with injuries. Lang is on injured reserve.
Rocket's three stars:
1. Dennis Wideman
2. Yannick Weber
3. Michael Ryder
(photo credit: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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