Cristobal Huet has done it again. In just his twenty seventh start of the season Huet has recorded his sixth shutout. With that shutout Huet maintained his hold on the NHL’s save percentage lead and is now second overall in goals against average and shutouts.
Two hundred feet away Rick DiPietro was no slouch as he made thirty four saves for the twelfth place Islanders who are gasping for air in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Islanders are now ten points out of the playoffs with just eleven games to make up the lost ground.
Chris Higgins opened the scoring seven minutes and forty seconds into the first period when Saku Koivu carried the puck into the slot and sent a back hand shot towards the net. Higgins was alone in front and slid the puck past DiPietro for his seventeenth goal of the season and the Canadiens 1,000 goal at the Bell Centre. Although there would be no scoring for the remainder of the period the game was far from boring as both goalies made countless spectacular saves.
With slightly more then five minutes remaining in the first period Islander’s tough guy Eric Godard ran into Cristobal Huet behind the Canadiens net. Mike Komisarek was not too impressed as he immediately dropped his gloves and whaled on Godard for colliding with his goalie. Godard dropped to his knees attempting to avoid the heavy blows from Komisarek’s fists. Kerry Fraser awarded the Islanders a five minute power play as well as twenty seven minutes in penalties for Mike Komisarek which included a game misconduct, lucky for the Canadiens Bob Gainey had dressed seven defenseman.
The second period was a scoreless one thanks to Cristobal Huet who bailed out his teammates after some defensive lapses. The first came when Alex Kovalev turned the puck over to Alexei Yashin, Yashin cut to the slot and fired a shot that Huet gloved with ease. The second spectacular save was generated by another giveaway when Todd Simpson sent a lazy pass that Wyatt Smith intercepted. Smith walked in alone on Huet but was unable to lift the puck over Huet’s left pad.
The third period was once again action packed as both goalies stood on their heads for their respective teams. As time ticked down with Rivet in the penalty box for delay of game, Cristobal Huet made a gorgeous goal line stand preventing the Islanders once again from tying the score. On the ensuing face off Markov blocked a point shot with his chest and flipped a pass to Bonk who skated into the neutral zone and hit the top corner of the empty net with just over a second to play.
Although the Canadiens emerged victorious for their fourth straight game they did not advance in the standings. The Canadiens find themselves equal in points to both the New Jersey Devils and the Tampa Bay Lightning but because of the tie break situations they Habs are still sitting pretty in the final Eastern Conference playoff position.
1. Cristobal Huet
2. Rick DiPietro
3. Saku Koivu
1. Chris Higgins has scored four goals in as many games against his home town New York Islanders, in his rookie campaign.
2. Cristobal Huet now has a .930 save percentage just .001 behind the Canadiens all time record currently held by Jose Theodore.
3. Saku Koivu has not scored in twenty three games but recorded and season best eight shots on goal last night.