Like the old adage says, you must be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. Last night Cristobal Huet put out a performance well deserving of this cliché. Huet improved his stats once again last night earning his 3rd shutout in his last seven starts and now the owner of an impressive 5-0-2 record over that stretch. Huet made 24 saves last night but none were better then the massive glove save he preformed with less than five minutes remaining in the 2nd period on Juraj Kolnik. While already on his knees and Kolnik alone in the slot Huet dove forward and captured Kolnik’s shot as it was
labeled for the top corner of the Canadiens net. Huet also had his share of luck last night. On two occasions in the third period the Panthers were only inches away from breaking Huet’s shutout. The first spell luck for Huet came early in the third period when Kolnik slid a puck passed Huet that was on its way into the net when Mathieu Dandenault brought the puck to a halt inches from the goal line and promptly removed it from the crease. Once again Huet won the battle of inches when with less then ten seconds left when Jozef Stumpel’s wrist shot rang off the crossbar and proceeded to bounce over Chris Gratton’s stick preserving Huet’s well deserved shutout.
Although the Canadiens’ only scored one goal Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins and Alex Kovalev all continued their post Olympic success each chipping in on the late third period tally. The goal was scored in the final seven minutes of the third period after Koivu and Higgins had been cycling the puck to Robero Luongo’s left Higgins slid a pass through the offensive zone directly to Kovalev who proceeded to deke out Gregory Campbell making his way towards the front of the net where he lifted a hard wrist shot over Luongo’s right shoulder.
The Canadiens played a much better game against the Panthers then they did against the Islander’s only two nights before, in fact the Canadiens out shot the Panthers last night which has been a rare occurrence since Bob Gainey relinquished Claude Julien of his coaching duties. Special teams last night from the Canadiens perspective was a mix bag. The penalty kill was once again spectacular especially one particular shift by Chris Higgins where he was left without a stick and prevented the two Panther point men on the power play from getting any pucks to the net. The penalty kill also generated a few offensive chances, which is always a plus. The power play was unsuccessful on six opportunities, which included over a full minute of a 5 on 3 advantage, which is always a major disappointment, that said Roberto Luongo was the Panthers best penalty killer and made some eye popping saves during the Canadiens numerous power plays.
Official 3 Stars
1. Cristobal Huet tied a career high for three shutouts in one season he accomplished the same feat in 2003-2004 in 33 starts this season it took him less than half the time equalizing the mark in only 16 starts.
2. Roberto Luongo now has a loosing record against the Montreal Canadiens.
3. The Canadiens are on pace for back-to back 90+ point season for the first time in 11 seasons.