Lightning-Canadiens: Darche Strikes Twice Against Bolts

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2010

Montreal 5 Tampa Bay 3 (Bell Centre)

Bell Centre fans watched tonight as poor zone coverage caused the defense to play soft, allowing free passage to the goal for the Canadiens.

They also watched forwards losing puck battles on the boards as a too many men on the ice penalty led to a goal against while the Lightning was shorthanded.

Tampa Bay committed the same kind of mistakes that we have seen from the home team much of the season. Tonight, the Canadiens were able to take advantage and capitalize on their opportunities.

The Habs took an early lead with a power-play goal and made it 2-0 about halfway through the first. It was a dominating performance in the period, with the Habs aggressively forechecking and being first on the puck.

After the game, coach Jacques Martin talked about chemistry starting to build among the players. It may sound like a strange comment in game No. 68 of the season, but given the number of injuries, some members of the team haven't spent much time together.

"We're starting to get a sense of what it might have been like earlier if we hadn't had the injuries," said Scott Gomez. "But a lot of teams have had injuries. We put ourselves in the situation we're in, so we can't worry about that."

Gomez had a strong game with a goal and two assists.

Linemate Benoit Pouliot added a goal, but Brian Gionta was pointless, creating a turnover that led to a goal when he forechecked Victor Hedman, a Lightning defenseman who is 11 inches taller.

Coach Martin was very complimentary to Mathieu Darche in his postgame presser. Martin said that Darche is a "smart player, and a tremendous human being," who brings "determination and commitment no matter the minutes [played]."

Darche made the most of his 9:37 minutes played with two goals.

Glen Metropolit also had a very efficient 10 minutes of ice time with a goal and an assist.

"You want to show them that they might have made a mistake by not bringing you back, but they have great players over there," said Darche, a former Lightning player. "At this point of the year I'm just happy to contribute to a win. If it's against your former team, it's just a little cherry on top of the sundae."

With the third and fourth lines contributing, Maxim Lapierre may be watching from the press box when his four game suspension expires. Lapierre is eligible to play on Saturday against Boston, but may have difficulty getting back into the lineup.

The Canadiens defense played well blocking 21 shots in front of Jaroslav Halak. Hal Gill led the way with five blocked shots.

Gill was also generous to the Lighting with two giveaways on the same sequence near the crease. Gill backhanded it onto the stick of Vincent Lecavalier, but was fortunate to get the puck back by blocking Lecavalier's shot. Gill then made a perfect pass to the stick of Steven Stamkos who put it in the back of the Canadiens net.

"I mean, it's a good pass, right on the tape. Obviously he was trying to clear it," Stamkos said. "I just got lucky and it went on my tape and I had an open net. Probably one of the easier ones of the year."

With the win, the Canadiens are in seventh place with 72 points and 14 games to play.

After a day off for the players on Wednesday, the Habs face the Oilers on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

Rocket's three stars

1. Scott Gomez
2. Mathieu Darche
3. Glen Metropolit

Player quotes from wire services were used in this report.

(photo credit: Getty)