Montreal 0 Calgary 1 (Bell Centre)
You have to give the Canadiens credit. It could have been worse. Much worse. Calgary is a very good hockey team. They have size, skill and three all-star caliber defensemen. And let's not forget a demanding coach in Brent Sutter who obviously designed the superior game plan tonight.
For a change, the Habs didn't leave their goaltender high and dry. They were able to play good defensive hockey. But it would seem that the Canadiens are not a team that can play well at both ends of the ice in the same game.
With a better defensive performance, Jaroslav Halak wasn't required to be spectacular, but he was solid all game long. The goal that beat him wasn't a hard shot but it was fired through the screen of Josh Gorges by Jarome Iginla.
Halak padded his stats with three wins in the third week of October though he wasn't a factor in any of the games. Tonight, Halak played very well and was challenged more than in those three games put together, yet didn't get the win. Welcome to the world of Carey Price.
It's simple. You can't win if you don't score.
The Canadiens kept the game close, and were even on the verge of tying the game had Scott Gomez not lost the handle on a breakaway. But more-so, the Flames seemed poised to break the game open at several points in the game with the Habs just holding on.
You have to love the hometown enthusiasm of the off-ice officials at the Bell Centre. The goal judge, perhaps hopefully, flashed the goal light in the third despite the fact that the Habs didn't come close. In addition, inexplicably, the official score-sheet shows that the Canadiens outhit the Flames 26-21.
For those watching the game, you will probably agree that the Habs were out-muscled in every zone of the ice. A telling statistic is that Ryan White led the Canadiens with five hits in only 5:19 of ice time.
For his part coach Jacques Martin didn't seem disappointed with his team's performance. "We need to create more on offence, but you have to give credit to the Flames—they have one of the best defences in the league," said Martin. "We need more of a presence in front of the net, but that's something we'll have to work on."
Let's hope that Martin also starts to give some attention to the Canadiens' struggling special teams. The power play went 0-for-3 and didn't threaten. Marc-Andre Bergeron is a nightmare in his own zone and is not contributing to the power play.
The Habs were able to kill of all five Flames' power play opportunities but Calgary seemed to have their way in the Montreal zone with the man advantage.
While Jay Leach didn't make any glaring errors in his first game as a Canadien, he can't continue to be shutout in hits and blocked shots in future games if he hopes to stay in the lineup.
The Canadiens head out on the road for their next two games in Phoenix and Nashville.
Rocket's three stars
1. Miikka Kiprusoff
2. Mike Cammalleri
3. Jarome Iginla
(photo credit: Getty images)
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