INTRODUCTORY COMMENTSThe last game of the season… what a season it’s been… full of highs & lows, thrills & frustrations but one thing that it didn’t have was boredom.
The Devils have been a source of ‘hell’ for the Canadiens ever since their coming into the league. Even when that team was one of the weakest, the Habs always seemed to have struggled against them. So, to finish the season against this nemesis could just likely be another pitch-fork in the butt.
The Devils, after a 10-game winning streak, are aspiring to a first position overall in their division and, hence 3rd overall in the Eastern Conference. So, for them, a win is very important.
To beat the Devils could be, for the Canadiens, a good confidence builder for the coming playoffs. As a help, Francis Bouillon is back for this game so the defense may have a bit more of a ‘punch’ but, on the other hand, Michael Ryder isn’t playing so the offence might lack some ‘punch’.
Let’s hope that we see our team finishes this season with a win and, why not…, a three-star performance.
*1 – Kovalev hurt – goes to the clinic with the trainer
3 – early pressure by the Canadiens
5 – CANADIENS GOAL (Rivet)
5 – Kovalev comes back
6 – CANADIENS PENALTY (Komisarek – hooking)
8 – DEVILS PENALTY (Pandolfo – tripping)
11 – CANADIENS GOAL (Plekanec)
14 – pressure by the Devils
15 – CANADIENS PENALTY (Bonk – tripping)
18 – broken play but with the Canadiens in control
18 – DEVILS PENALTY (Matvichuk – roughing)
19 – scuffle around the Devils net
19 – MULTIPLE PENALTIES (Souray, Lukowich, Kovalev, Kovalev – all roughing)
*the numbers are minutes indicators and are approximate.
FIRST PERIOD SUMMARY
Brodeur, at the other end, didn’t have much of a chance on the two goals as they were both deflected past him. At the end of the period, with the scrum around the Devils net, a double minor was called on Kovalev which means that the Canadiens will likely be well put to the test as the Devils try to reverse the trend of the game at the beginning of the second period.
– Canadiens 6
– Devils 12
– MTL, C. RIVET (6) (A. PEREZHOGIN, S. KOIVU), 05:23
– MTL, T. PLEKANEC (8) (F. BOUILLON, M. KOMISAREK), 11:14
*1 – Devils three minute power play begins
5 – fight between Murray & Wiemer – Murray cuts Wiemer
7 – MULTIPLE PENALTIES (Murray, Wiemer & Downey, Downey)
7 – broken play
8 – sustained pressure by the Devils
10 – CANADIENS PENALTY (Bonk – holding & unsportsmanlike conduct)
13 – breakaway – Plekanec but stopped by Brodeur
13 – CANADIENS GOAL (Kovalev)
15 – DEVILS PENALTY (Matvichuk – high sticking)
18 – DEVILS GOAL (Gionta)
As a team, the Canadiens continued to keep their calm during this period. Happily, they were even able to lead the Devils in shots on net.
During the three-minute and four-minute penalties, the penalty kill units were able to keep the Devils from turning the tide. Especially important here were Huet, Markov & Dandenault.
Kovalev’s goal was a classic display of his stick-handling and puck-dangling skills. The Devils defense was frozen by his moves going across the front of Brodeur’s nets. Brodeur was lost as to what Kovalev would do or when Kovalev would make his move.
Gionta’s goal was disputable due to the fact that it looked like he had closed his hand on the puck before dropping it in front of himself. The Canadiens were not put off by the goal as they continued to attack Brodeur’s net.
Of note, Garth Murray doing a super job replacing Steve Bégin. He’s being a constant pest for the Devils and a ‘bee under their bonnet’.
Will the Canadiens keep this up throughout the third period? We’ll see.
– Canadiens 18
– Devils 13
– MTL, A. KOVALEV (23) (M. RIBEIRO, J. BULIS), 14:14
– N.J, B. GIONTA (47) (S. GOMEZ, B. LUKOWICH), 17:18
*1 – Canadiens continue to contain the Devils
5 – DEVILS PENALTY (Langenbrunner – tripping)
7-9 – sustained strong pressure by the Devils
10- CANADIENS PENALTY (Bonk – hooking)
11 – DEVILS GOAL (Gionta)
15 – DEVILS GOAL (Elias)
16-18 – continued strong pressure by the Devils
18 – DEVILS GOAL (Langenbrunner)
19 – CANADIENS empty net – no results
At the beginning of the period, the Devils continued to be kept to the outside and limited to angled shots on Huet.
As the period wore on, the Canadiens seemed to start sitting on their two-goal lead. The Devils, likely trying to maintain their 1st place in the Atlantic Division outhustled the Canadiens most of the period, even winning races for iced pucks on a few occasions. Of course, this lead to the three unanswered Devils goals.
Huet may have looked weak on the 4th Devils goal but Martin Brodeur showed the crowd the master goalie that he is. He made major stops during the course of the period.
– Canadiens 7
– Devils 15
– N.J, B. GIONTA (46) (P. ELIAS, B. RAFALSKI), 11:29
– N.J, P. ELIAS (15) (S. GOMEZ, B. GIONTA), 14:55
– N.J, J. LANGENBRUNNER (18) (B. LUKOWICH), 17:37
The Canadiens started the game with gusto. They kept the Devils in check for most of the first two periods. Most of the Devils attacks were kept to the outside and the shots on Huet were relatively harmless. The Canadiens offense kept the pressure on the Devils and the defense kept a good screen around their goalie.
Though it seemed that Gionta’s goal at the end of the second didn’t seem to rattle the Canadiens, it obviously ignited a fire under the Devils. During most of the 1st half of the third period, the Canadiens kept the Devils at bay. But, the Devils kept pushing, pushing and pushing with the result that they were able to score three unanswered goals in the last period. Talent plus effort won the day for the Devils who maintained the 1st place in the Atlantic Division and 3rd place overall in the Eastern Conference.
So, with the loss by the Hurricanes and the loss by the Lightning, the Canadiens finish 7th and will begin their Stanley Cup quest against the Hurricanes. On the one hand, with the relative slump being suffered by the Hurricanes, a series victory is possible for the Canadiens. On the other hand, if the Canadiens play the way they did in the 3rd period of this game, it’ll be a very short series in favour of the Hurricanes. There seems to be no problems with their goaltending. The team only needs to put in a full 60 minutes of effort during every game to have a shot at a victory each time.
See you Saturday in Carolina for the 1st of at least four more games by our boys in the tricolour uniforms.
– Canadiens 31
– Devils 40
1 – Gionta
2 – Gomez
3 – Plekanec