Saku Koivu scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation, pushing the Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. On a night which was special enough for Saku as it was his 600th in the NHL it became that much better while killing Craig Rivets hooking penalty. Souray launched a pass to Kovalev who carried the puck over the blue line and dropped the puck to Koivu, Kovalev drove the net and Koivu picked the top corner to provide the Canadiens with their league leading ninth short handed goal. Koivu would also add an empty netter.
Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit also had spectacular games. Streit scored his first goal of the season added and assist and was a team best +3 on the evening. Souray notched three assists vaulting him into a tie with Sergei Gonchar of the Penguins for most points for a defenseman in the Eastern Conference.
Souray set up Streit while short handed on a 2 on 1 to open the scoring 8:29 seconds into the first period. Tomas Plekanec’s outstanding effort to create the two on one earned him an assist. The Canadiens escaped the first period tied 1-1 thanks to Cristobal Huet who made seventeen first period saves. Brad Richards tied the game at one at 13:39 of the first period while Tampa was on their second of six eventual powerplay’s. Vaclav Prospal and Filip Kuba started the tic-tac-toe play.
With slightly more than a minute remaining in the 2nd period Martin St. Louis scored his 19th goal of the season, the goal was reviewed for a couple of minutes but the puck had clearly crossed the line despite Huet’s best efforts. Tampa held the lead until 6:38 of the third period when Maxim Lapierre deflected Mike Komisarek point shot between his own legs into the back of the net. The goal was Lapierre’s first NHL goal in this just his third NHL game.
And the rest folks, is history….
Game Notes: Chris Higgins and Steve Begin both missed tonight game, although it appears that Higgins will be ready to go Saturday night against the Penguins. Maxim Lapierre now has points in both of his games this season with the Canadiens. Tampa Bay have now lost three in a row and seven of their last eight. Things will not get any easier for John Tortorella and the Bolts as their next five games are all against teams with above .500 records.
1. Cristobal Huet – made more saves in the first period that opposing goalie Marc Denis made all game long.
2. Martin St. Louis – recorded five shots, and potted a goal.
3. Saku Koivu – scored the game winner while short handed and added an empty netter.
Honourable Mention to Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit.
1. Sheldon Souray has scored two goals and added three assists against Tampa this season.
2. Montreal earned their first regulation win in a game where they were short handed six times.
3. Tomas Plekanec played in his 100th NHL game.
4. Vincent Lecavalier extend his point streak to eight game’s and is now just three games shy of matching his career best 11 which he set earlier this year between October 19th and November 11th.