Montreal 5 NY Rangers 4 OT (Bell Centre)
Bob Gainey must have been proud tonight. His "big" acquisitions from the summer free agency period, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, and Mike Cammalleri totaled eight points in the Canadiens victory. But it was Cammalleri who was the sniper for the Habs with a hat trick. Cammalleri scored the tying goal in the third period and then the winner in overtime on a beautiful end to end rush.
“He did a great job controlling that puck and cutting to the middle on that play and then he wired one heck of a shot,” said Gionta. “We’ve been getting our chances so far and pucks have just found ways not to go in for us. Cammy always goes to the net and it sure paid off tonight.”
With a four point game, Cammalleri takes over the Canadiens' scoring lead from Tomas Plekanec who is having a great start to his season,picking up an assist tonight. Scanning through the list of the top scorers, one finds Cammalleri, Gomez, Gionta, Paul Mara and Jaroslav Spacek, all recent additions by Gainey.
Facing their former team for the first time, Gomez had two assists with Mara blocking three Ranger shots. Chris Higgins was benched for the third period by coach John Tortorella in his first trip back to the Bell Centre as a Ranger.
Matt D'Agostini and Marc-Andre Bergeron were the other two goal scorers for the Canadiens. D'Agostini created a turnover by pokechecking the puck from Brandon Dubinsky and then finished the play by scoring on a feed from Max Lapierre. Bergeron partially atoned for some dreadful defensive play with a blast from the point which found the back of the net on a five-on-three power play.
Canadiens were unsuccessful on three other power play chances and didn't look very good. They need much quicker puck movement and more traffic in front of the net.
The Rangers had scored a power play goal in eight straight games but were blanked in their two opportunities by some strong penalty killing by the Habs.
Goaltending was not stellar at either end with Henrik Lundqvist making 26 saves and Jaroslav Halak with 23. Halak was not at his best giving up three first period goals while struggling with his rebound control.
Poor defensive zone coverage and careless turnovers by the Canadiens gave the Rangers far too many chances. Bergeron, Hal Gill and Josh Gorges all had difficulty with the agressive Ranger forecheck. However, the third New York goal was a stoppable one.
Adjustments in the second period had Habs' forwards coming back deep to help the defense. Halak played better but it was the players in front of him who limited the Rangers to five shots in the third period and only one in overtime.
The Canadiens are starting to gel. After a tough first period filled with bad habits, they used their speed to come back from a two goal deficit. The Rangers were a tough test but the Habs showed that they can compete with the better teams in the league.
After tonight, it would appear that the Halak hype has come back down to earth. Expect to see Carey Price start the Canadiens next game on Monday versus the Islanders.
As proud as he was of his team tonight, let's hope that Gainey has one more move up his sleeve. Imagine the potential of this team with one more top six forward.
Gomez, Gionta, Cammalleri
Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Lapierre
Metropolit, Moen, Pacioretty
Chipchura, Latendresse, D'Agostini
Jaroslav Halak starts in goal for the Canadiens; Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.
Scratches: Laraque, Stewart, Markov (ankle), O'Byrne (knee)
Rocket's three stars
1. Mike Cammalleri
2. Brian Gionta
3. Michael Del Zotto
(photo credit: Getty images)
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