Goal by Goal – First Period : Montreal 0 Ottawa 1
It was an interesting first period for Hab fans, as they were treated to three new line combinations. The talented, but often offensively-shy Nik Sundstrom joined Mike Ribeiro and Richard Zednik on the second line, while Chad Kilger and Jason Ward dressed alongside Joe Juneau on the third line, and Andreas Dackell, returning from a knee injury, played on the fourth unit with Steve Begin and Darren Langdon.
The Sens, playing without Mike Fisher, Radek Bonk, Vaclav Varada, and Anton Volchenkov, may have been short-handed when it came to players, but their roster was still quite imposing with the likes of Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, and Jason Spezza. It was Spezza who got into penalty trouble early on. Just 1:57 into the first, the talented young centre took a roughing penalty, on which the Habs failed to capitalize. Interestingly enough, Chad Kilger enjoyed a shift on the powerplay, and he was unfortunately joined by Francis Bouillon. Bouillon, for all his efforts and hard work, has no place on the special teams units.
At the 4:00 mark the Sens came close, too. Jose Theodore, who, let’s face it, can make you cringe whenever he plays the puck, sent a beautiful pass to a Sens forward as he was behind the goal. Luckily for Theo, Ottawa did not capitalize, but if they did…
Soon after, at 7:42 Quintal took an interference penalty. Ottawa failed to capitalize, leaving the teams deadlocked in a scoreless draw.
The Habs came close at 9:40 of the period where rookie Michael Ryder, with one goal in his last nine, grabbed the puck just inside the Sens blueline and charged towards the goal, after beating a pair of Sens to the puck. While he appeared to be looking to shoot at the right side of the goal, Ryder pulled off an alright fake, before trying to slide the puck by Lalime from the left side of the goal on his backhand.
Not long after, at around 9:20 Martin Havlat stormed back down the right side of the ice and looked destined to beat Theodore. He let a solid shot go from the right of the hash-marks with hopes of beating the Habs’ netminder through the fivehole. Theodore made the save and held the rebound away from the Sens forward parked on the other side of the crease. Bryan Smolinski would later test Theodore with a hard slapper from the top of the circle at the 14:00 point. The shot, one of ten in the period at this point, was handled easily by Theo.
With just over 2 and a half minutes to play, Mike Komisarek tangled with a Sen on the far boards. Darren Langdon entered the equaion looking to aid his young teammate, and perhaps the pushing and shoving (although very minor) will be the root of other battles later in the game…
It took a while, but Zdeno Chara finally found the net for the Sens. WIth 32 seconds left in the first, Chara carried the puck up and hit the blueline with force and stepped into a blast from the left point. The shot rung off the post, and bounced by a stunned Theodore. Jason Spezza and Chris Neil picked up the assists on the goal. Ottawa holds a 1-0 lead heading into the second, let’s hope that a late goal such as this won’t sway the momentum too much into the opposition’s favour. Despite being outshot by a nearly 2-1 margin (13-7 in Sens favour), this is still a winnable game for our boys.
Goal by Goal : Second Period – Montreal 1 Ottawa 2
The Habs came out looking to score early in order to erase any momemtum created by the Sens late first period goal. And so, in looking to spark his club Darren Langdon decided it was time to do what he does best. After Andreas Dackell was tripped up at the Sens blueline, Langdon ran hard at Todd Simpson and slammed him into the boards before giving him some face wash, paving the way for a fight.
The bout began with Langdon landing many rights, but not without Simpson landing many good shots, too. Simpson began to get the better of #15, before the Habs’ resident goon gathered his fists and planted a nice fist in the middle of Simpson’s face. The pair continued to tangle all the way into centre ice, where Langodn threw many hard punches, prooving once again he is the master of coming back in the second half of fights. It was a long, excellent tilt.
Chris Neil took a holding penalty shortly after, sending the Habs to the powerplay. After an uneventul start to the man-advantage, Michael Ryder pulled off a nice toe drag after a cross ice clearing pass by Ribeiro. Our super-rookie worked the puck inside the Sens defender and fired a nice shot that just slid wide of Lalime, a pure sniper’s shot indeed. Chad Kilger, again on the PP’s second unit, followed up Ryder’s effort with a huge blast to test Lalime. Lalime continued to be busy, after Patrice Brisebois found Jan Bulis down low in the right corner, and the winger fired a nice shot on the Sens goaltender.
While shorthanded, Ottawa showed what a great team they really are, as Bryan Smolinski and Marian Hossa broke in on a 2 on 1. Hossa, who cut sharply to the goal, took a pass from Smolinski and broke to the goaltender’s left. He tried to beat Theodore, but Jose was up to the task. Shortly after, Todd White fired a huge shot on Theo from the top of right circle, which theodore played well.
At last, the Habs hit the score board. As the puck was bouncing around between bodies in the corner, Sundstrom snatched it up and skated around the goal. Looking in front, he sent the puck towards the c rease before it took a few bounces and flew into the air. Steve Begin was in the right place at the right time, and his stick barely tapped the puck enough to slide it over the goal line at the 9:00 mark. Begin’s fourth of the year, from Sundstrom, made the game 1-1. Begin immediately turned around and celebrated in huge fashion, as the spark plug was obviously fired up. Lalime tried to cover up the goal, but unfortunately for him, as he placed his glove over the puck, he was already too late. The referees reviewed the goal upstairs, but it stood up as the Habs’ only goal.
The Habs would take yet another powerplay, and one that had disaster written all over it. Luckily for our boys, Andrei Markov’s giveaway inside the Habs zone did not result in a goal. The first unit failed to score, but Kilger was at it again along with Juneau, Bulis, Bouillon and Brisebois on Julien’s new-look second unit. While he is often critized, big Kilger looked interested and inspired, while parking himself in front and skating hard.
As soon as the man advantage ended, the Sens took a tripping penalty and the CH jumped happily onto the powerplay, again. As Chara sat in the box, Andrei Markov, who was quarterbacking the PP, got the puck at the point and quickly found Ribeiro at right side of the goal with a very nice pass. Ribeiro had Ryder parked comfortably, perhaps too comfortably, all alone in front and made nice pass. Somehow, though, Ryder falled to convert.
At 6:27 of the period, just after the powerplay had come, again, unsuccessfully to a close, Begin again impressed offensively. The feisty forward made a great play to find Sundstrom alone in front, slightly to the right of Lalime. Sundstrom, however, failed to bury the glorious oppurtunity.
For all the Habs’ efforts, the Sens capitalized again, this time on a Stephane Quintal penalty. As they effectively moved the puck from the point, to the corner, to the slot, Wade Redden connected, although weakly, and somehow beat Theodore. While Craig Rivet was parked in front and may have had somewhat of an influence on the goal, there should be no excuse for allowing that type of shot to get through. Theodore is an incredible, incredible goaltender; but both goals allowed through forty minutes have been very weak. The goal, Redden’s 13th, came at 14:53, with assists being handed out to Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat.
Despite outshooting the Sens 10-5 in the period, our boys head into the third down a goal. Perhaps Saku Koivu’s excellent final shift in the second period will spark the club. Stay tuned for the third!
Goal by Goal : Third Period – Montreal 2 Ottawa 5
Alright, so the Habs headed into the third down a goal. Fair enough, they must have thought. We’ve worked hard up until this point, and we can still win this game. Okay boys, but you were SO wrong. Before the teams had even played five minutes of hockey in the third period, they found themselves down by a 4-1 score.
The first tally, just 1:06 into the frame, came from Smolinski. The veteran centreman potted his fourteenth, while the assist went to Martin Havlat, his second of the night. The goal was similiar to Chara’s first period marker, in a sense that it was a shot Theodore should have had.
Just incase the Habs still felt they had it in them to win, Jason Spezza decided that he would further terrorize his divisional opponents. Spezza buried the puck after Theodore gave up a poor rebound. In four games this season against our Habs, Spezza has destroyed us, picking up a goal in each game. The goal was his second point of the game.
Claude Julien, it appeared, had seen enough. Theodore was yanked, and rightfully so, while Mathieu Garon made his way to the Habs’ crease. With all the sharp-shooters opposing him, don’t be surprised if he was a little bit nervous heading in. However, Garon was calm enough to make a few ordinary saves, and his mates would later help him out.
Just over ten minutes into the third, Niklas Sundstrom again connected with Steve Begin, this time while killing off a Richard Zednik penalty. Sundstrom hit Begin with a beautiful pass, sending the latter in on a clear-cut breakaway. As Begin sped towards Lalime, he slid a nice shot through the Ottawa keeper’s pads. The goal made it 4-2, and perhaps not all hope was lost. Both players picked up their second points of the night, and it was Begin’s second marker. The pair were the only two Habs to reach the scoresheet.
Shortly after, Richard Zednik and Mike Ribeiro would break into the Ottawa zone. Zednik let loose a hard shot, looking for his first goal in six games, but Lalime had the answer.
The Habs went into the final five minutes down 4-2 and outshot 27-19. It was clear the players began to get a little bit frustrated, especially Mike Ribeiro. Ribs had been, for the most part, shut down quite well by the Sens but was still plugging; as he was throwing his wee weight around quite often.
With little left, Marian Hossa broke down the left side and fed a nice pass into Martin Havlat. Havlat was darting, all alone mind you, for the net and deflected a hard Hossa pass just wide of a sprawling Garon. Not long after, Hossa would trip up Steve Begin giving the Habs a powerplay for the remaining 1:50 of the game. As Garon headed to the bench, the boys went to work.
The puck left the Ottawa zone, and Shaun Van Allen lifted the puck, on a high backhand, into the empty goal. The goal came shorthanded, and was his second of the year, with captain Alfredsson and Chara picking up assists. Koivu showed one last burst of hustle, working his butt off in order to prevent the goal from happening, but came up short.
Is it a disappointing loss? Yes. Should we be upset? Certainly. Must we panic? Most definitely not. While our playoff lead is getting a little bit thinner, we are still a good team. And, while, we may be helped by an acquisition here or there, we are still a decent, playoff-bound team. The play of our team of late has been concerning (especially the outcomes), but if things get too far out of hand, M. Gainey will let you know about it.
Writer’s Three Stars
3. Martin Havlat
2. Steve Begin
1. Jason Spezza