The Habs never really were in this game from the start, despite only losing by two goals. The Devils played a game that is very common to them and they came away with the 2 points.
After being outshot 18-9 in the first two periods, Montreal did manage to register 11 in the third to finish with a total of just 20 shots and it clearly wasn’t enough. Even when the Canadiens did in fact manage some good scoring opportunities, one of the league’s best goalies was there for New Jersey to save the day.
New Jersey 1-0: I guess this sort of goal had to happen eventually.It usually will when you play a forward at the point on the PP. The Habs had a man advantage with Niedermayer in the box and were getting some quality chances on the PP. As the puck came out to the point, Saku Koivu foolishly tried to play it before it got out of the zone. This risky play turned out to be a disaster as his momentum took him too far and Patrick Elias was able to blow right by him to go one on one with Theodore. Elias held it and then finally wristed it into the top left corner for a 1-0 Devils lead. In a game against New Jersey the first goal is just so important and Captain Koivu let his mates down on this play.
New Jersey 2-0: The Devils got a power play on a tripping penalty to Richard Zednik. A breakout style rush ensues and the Devils come right in on Theodore. As Grant Marshall tries to send the puck cross crease, Bouillon’s stick deflects the intended pass past Theodore. If you remember, it was Bouillon who deflected a shot from Mats Sundin past Theodore on December 20th against the Leafs. It’s unfortunate for Francis because he has had a tremendous season so far, but he really needs to stop deflecting pucks and let Theo have a chance.
-Canadiens forward Jason Ward left the game in the third period on what is being diagnosed as a shoulder injury. It did appear to be rather serious, but there isn’t any word on his condition as of right now.
-For the second consecutive game Montreal fans were treated to a penalty shot, this one by the opposition. Souray hauled down Marshall and he was granted the shot, which was stopped by Theodore.
-Josef Balej made his NHL debut and played almost 11 minutes. He didn’t generate a whole lot of offense, but his linemates Perreault and Langdon weren’t helping. Josef saw a promotion to the second line for some of the third period where it appeared as though coach Julien was upset with the penalty that Pierre Dagenais’s took in the second.
-Many would agree that New Jersey’s style of play is what has lead to this “dead puck” era and it was that style that won them the game tonight.
Habs Hero: Really tough to pick a hero on a night like this. I’ll give it to Theodore because he gave the Habs a chance to win this one but the rest of the team just didn’t get it done tonight.
Habs Zero: Tonight it is Saku Koivu who’s poor decision with the puck in the first period led to a shorthanded tally for the Devils. Koivu seemed to have some problems controlling the puck in this night, and on one play he basically threw away a 3 on 2 opportunity by failing to even initiate a pass.
Bottom line: New Jersey just flat out beat us with their boring brand of hockey, but give them credit, they are the ultimate teams as everyone of them abides by what Pat Burns preaches, defense first. An all important divisional game is coming up next and Montreal can’t let this game keep them from beating the Leafs tomorrow night.