Tonight's victory over the Calgary Flames was full of surprises, but—is that really surprising?
It was nice to see Montreal's penalty killing methods show signs of improvement. They have always been the aggressive type, who will try create a scoring opportunity even while killing penalties, but tonight that plan appeared to be even more obvious. It nearly was successful more than once.
Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov finally got themselves on the scoring sheet. However, Kovalev's points were only assists.
Still, one cannot complain about either of them having a double-point night. It might give them the confidence boost they need to finally start producing again. Robert Lang got two of the Canadiens' goals. It seems that the old linemates—Kovalev and Lang—still have their magic, as both are seeing point production while playing together.
Saku Koivu revealed his defensive side on several occasions and had an amusing argument with Flames captain, Jarome Iginla.
Not enough could be said about Matt D'Agostini. The kid is on fire (pun intended). He has come up with four goals in his last four games, this being only his sixth career game. Both he and Koivu tried to set each other up multiple times, but just couldn't cash in. Both came extremely close.
The flames were expecting to see Carey Price in net, and were over-aggressive against Jaroslav Halak during the first period. However, Halak stood his ground extremely well and the one goal he let in was a "good" goal. Halak has finally picked up a victory for himself, meaning Price may get a few more days of relief.
On the other end of the rink, although he let in four goals Miikka Kiprusoff was stellar, as per usual. Montreal easily could have had doubled their score in this game if he was not sharp. Most likely, his favourite save of the night was a close-up shot by former teammate, Alex Tanguay.
In their last ten games, the Habs have put together a 6-1-3 record, which has helped them move within five points of the Boston Bruins for first in the division and conference.
The victory was not all good news, however.
Both Chris Higgins and Mathieu Dandenault were lost to injuries during the game. Currently the severity of these injuries are unknown, but Coach Guy Carbonneau admitted that Dandenault's injury will have him out indefinitely.
Sparks are sure to be flying when the two clubs meet up again, in Calgary, on February 9. Markov made an extremely "dirty" hit on Dion Phaneuf in the late stages of the game. Thankfully, Phaneuf was not hurt, simply irritated. Markov stuck his leg up, clearly with the purpose of tripping Phaneuf, who went sprawling across the ice.
If he had hit him in the right spot, Phaneuf could have ended up with a rather severe leg injury. The hit resulted in a large scrum in the corner, with Markov's sweater being pulled up over his head. Undoubtedly, Markov will be the target on February 9.
All in all, it was a fast-paced, bone-crushing game, full of spectacular saves from both goalies. This was the proof of why the setup of West versus East Canadian teams needs to happen more often.