Montreal Canadiens-Phoenix Coyotes: Special Teams are Truly Special

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent INovember 12, 2009

Montreal 4 Phoenix 2 ( Arena)

It was a good night for the Canadiens' special teams. The Habs scored two power play goals, on two opportunities, and a four-on-four goal. Their final goal was scored into an empty Phoenix net.

Canadiens' penalty killers were perfect on four power play chances by the Coyotes. The Canadiens had several short-handed scoring chances, most notably by Scott Gomez and Tomas Plekanec.

The driving force behind the power-play and penalty killing unit is Plekanec. No Habs' forward plays more minutes on the two units than Plekanec. He tallied three assists to become the Canadiens' leader scorer for the season with 17 points.

Plekanec's consistent, high-level effort is deserving of the number one center spot, in my opinion. The Canadiens would be far more effective icing a first line with Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri. Gomez could be matched with Andrei and, dare I say, Sergei Kostitsyn, on the second line.

Cammalleri had a goal and an assist on a team-leading four shots. Gionta also had two points with an assist and an empty net goal. Glenn Metropolit was the other Habs' scorer on the power play.

Marc-Andre ended his eight game scoring slump. While Bergeron continued to struggle in his own zone tonight, he contributed a goal and two assists.

As has been written on these pages before, strong special teams' play can compensate for a number of team shortcomings. Tonight, it helped some overlook a weak first period in which the Habs had three shots on goal. By the end of the second, that number had only climbed to ten shots.

"There are two factors in determining a game: special teams and goaltending," said coach Jacques Martin. "Both of them tonight were key factors."

Carey Price faced only 20 Phoenix shots but had a solid game when called upon. Luck was not on Price's side for the two goals by the Coyotes. Price was accidentally stabbed in the throat by Paul Mara's stick, knocking him into the net. With Price out of the way, former Hab Robert Lang scored into the open side.

Phoenix's second goal was directed in off the skate of Paul Bissonnette.

On defense, Jaroslav Spacek left the game in the second period with an unspecified injury and did not return. His load was picked up by Mara, Roman Hamrlik, and Josh Gorges.

The announced attendance was 10,064, the fourth-highest total in nine home games this season. Arizona-based media report that the fans in the arena numbered approximately 6,500, with a significant portion donning red Habs gear.

Chants of "Ole Ole" were heard throughout the night, with fans singing the traditional "Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" near the end of game with the Canadiens ahead.

Rocket's three stars

1. Tomas Plekanec
2. Mike Cammalleri
3. Adrian Aucoin

(photo credit: Getty)