In what was an exciting game for the fans at the Bell Center the Montreal Canadiens came back from behind four times, every time on the power-play, and finally pulled ahead for the first time in the game when it counted most… with Sheldon Souray’s OT goal, his 3rd of the game, to win it 5-4.
Jose Theodore was injured in the game warm-up when he took a shot on the collarbone, he decided to play anyway… but Garon replaced him after the first period and got the win tonight.
Nashville 1-0: Nashville uses a strong forechecking game, 2 men deep and the defensemen often pinch in to keep the pressure on in the offensive zone. It pays off right away as two minutes in they overwhelm the Habs in their zone, and it eventually leads to coverage breakdown at the point. The open man at the point gets the shot off, and it gets past Theodore to open the scoring.
Montreal 1-1: As the Habs would do all night, the Habs fought back… with power-play being their weapon of choice. The Habs control the puck in the zone, eventually Ribeiro passes it to Zednik, feeds it to Souray at the point… and he uses his canon shot to tie the game.
Nice job of Ryder in front of the net, who disrupted Vokoun’s vision on the play.
Nashville 2-1: Juneau is a little slow on the backcheck, Souray commits to Juneau‘s man leaving his own man wide open… the puck gets to the open man Walker who walks in alone on a hurting Theo and beats him stick side. Souray was a little too aggressive on the play, in trying to fix Juneau‘s mistake.
Montreal 2-2: And so the Habs go back the power-play early in the 2nd period. Ribeiro slides it to Dagenais in the corner, and finds Souray sneaking in from the blueline on the opposite side… his one-timer sends the water bottle flying and the Habs are back in it.
Nashville 3-2: Those pesky Predators just don’t let up… and take the lead yet again. Stevenson bodychecks Komisarek in the corner as he focuses on a clearing attempt. Not only is the clearing attempt knocked down at the blueline, but Komisarek falls to the ice because of the bodycheck… Stevenson is left wide open as he heads back to the front of the net just in time to deflect the point shot past a helpless Garon.
Markov who was alone in front of the net, could have backed up his defensive partner… but he was caught looking at the puck and never saw Stevenson get away from Komisarek and head towards Garon wide open.
Montreal 3-3: The Canadiens go back on the power-play one minute into the 3rd period. Ryder along the boards slips it to Zednik in the slot, since he’s closely checked he can only push it to Ribeiro in front of the net… he waits just long enough to attract the defenders’ attention and sends it right back to a wide open Zednik who only has to knock it into the wide open net.
Very nice play by Ribeiro, he’s so entertaining to watch when he’s on his game.
Nashville 4-3: Here the Predators get a little lucky. Rem Murray enters the zone and immediately let’s go a slapshot that touches Quintal above the circle. Garon is completely fooled by the change of trajectory of the shot, it hits the crossbar and goes in.
Montreal 4-4: Ribeiro goes in 1-on-2 and he relentless pursuit of the puck forces Nashville to take a penalty. The Habs go on the man-advantage once again… Ribeiro finds Koivu open at the point, he has time to wind up and beats Vokoun to tie the game at 4-4 with 5 minutes left.
Montreal 5-4: The game heads to OT, Souray makes a nice defensive play by pocking the puck away from a Predator who was trying to cut in alone towards the net… the Habs head up one offense and as Bulis carries the puck up Souray joins the rush out of nowhere creating the 2-on-1. Bulis times the pass perfectly and Souray completes the play for his hat-trick and the win.
– The Habs were 4 of 5 on the power-play and a perfect 4 for 4 on the PK… special teams was obviously a big part of tonight’s win.
– Speaking of the successful PP, Koivu being used at the point with the man-advantage really worked out well tonight… an experience that should be repeated in the future. On the other hand the continued use of Juneau at the point on the 2nd PP unit has and will never work, why the past two coaches have kept going back to it is beyond me. Brisebois’ absence is surely a factor, but still.
– Theodore was injured by a Dagenais shot in the warmup, he still tried to play… but wasn’t effective in the 1st period and Garon came in to replace him. They feared he had broken his collarbone, but for now initial tests reveal to only be a contusion… and Theodore even hopes to be back for Saturday’s game vs. Toronto. That might be a little optimistic but we’ll see.
– The Canadiens announced after the game that Steve Bégin had an arthroscopic repair of some cartilage in the shoulder, and he will be out 3 months. Bad news for the Habs, he was one of the best performers for them this year.
– It was Jordin Tootoo’s first NHL game played in Canada, and 400 of his friends and family were in assistance.
Habs’ hero: There were many heroes on this night, but none bigger than Sheldon Souray. He continues to impress both defensively and offensively… and is emerging as a true leader on this team. Ribeiro had himself a great night with four PP assists… Dagenais started the game on the 4th line but his good play got him quickly promoted to the 2nd line.
Koivu looked particularly strong tonight, he sure didn’t let those trade rumours get the best of him… although we didn’t like his selfish slashing penalty when the team was down 4-3, but the penalty-killers bailed him out. The PK did their job tonight.
And finally Garon did a fine job in relief of Theodore, the 2 shots that beat him were deflections.
Habs’ zero: Audette & Kilger… both are completely ineffective, and as Ward will soon rejoin the team one of them will surely find themselves on waivers to make room for him. In either case, it will be deserved… and neither one would be missed.
Another exciting game for the Montreal fans, and to win it in OT was the perfect ending to send everyone home happy. We have to thank the Predators for this, as they play an open game with lots of forechecking and it gives a great pace to the action on the ice.
Souray is making a strong bid for an All-Star game appearance, and yet the Canadiens are asking the fans to vote for Koivu, Zednik and Theodore… it doesn’t make much sense. Only Theodore has a chance, but this latest injury might cost him if turns out to be worse than first thought. If he only misses a relatively short period, the Habs will be fine since they have a very capable backup in Garon and he should only get better as he gets more work between the pipes.
Next up for the Habs, a heavyweight tilt with the hot Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Canada.