It was a special day for Andrei Kostitsyn and Mathieu Dandenault as they were celebrating their respectively 23rd and 32nd birthdays, but they just could not power the Montreal Canadiens past the New York Rangers for a Sunday afternoon game.
After controlling most of the game, Montreal gave up the lead late in the third period when Chris Drury and Martin Straka scored late in the final period to break the tie in the Rangers’ 5-3 win.
With the loss, Montreal lost their first chance to get closer to the division title.
The game started nicely for the Habs, who took advantage of two power plays in the first to down the Rangers 2-0. Andrei Markov scored the first of his team, followed by Alex Kovalev, who was assisted by Saku Koivu and Christopher Higgins.
The second period almost started as nice when Montreal Sergei Kostitsyn got a penalty shot. The younger of the brothers Kostitsyn celebrated his big brother's birthday with a nifty shot top shelf, past Rangers goalie Lundqvist.
The Habs controlled the game 3-0.
However, after some punches, bad words, and expressions between both teams, Koivu was caught for tripping, and the Islanders started their unstoppable offensive show with their first goal of the game from Michal Roszival.
Exactly 30 seconds after, Brandon Dubinsky scored to make it a one-goal game.
Scott Gomez later tied the score when got behind Montreal d-man Roman Hamlrik to receive and direct a pass from teammate Marc Staal.
Besides all the scoring chances missed by the Habs, the game had all the aspects of a playoff game.
New York’s forward Sean Avery, well known for being best at disturbing his opponents, worked full-time this afternoon, especially when Koivu was on the ice.
On the other end, giant defenseman Mike Komisarek made things difficult for Jaromir Jagr with a few big hits.
Alex Kovalev also served a big hit on Ryan Hollweg; who later hit Canadiens Sergei Kostitsyn from behind.
It was all about the hits!
The Habs will host the—struggling but still first—Ottawa Senators at the Bell Center.
The Post's three stars: Chris Drury, Mike Komisarek, Sergei Kostitsyn