Things are looking bleak if you’re a Montreal Canadiens fan. The Carolina Hurricanes handed the Habs their sixth straight loss in a 5-3 win.
The Habs put 45 shots on Cam Ward tonight. That’s only five less than the 50 shots combined over their last two matches against New Jersey and Florida. The message from the coaching staff seems to have finally been received: shoot more. Mike Johnson lead the team with seven shots, while Saku Koivu wasn’t far behind with six. Montreal’s problem is that they can’t find a way to get the puck in the net.
It was Montreal getting on the board first at 17:36 into the game. Sheldon Souray scored his 20th of the season with David Aebischer out of his net for an extra attacker with a Carolina penalty on the way.
Carolina made good use of their special teams in the second period, scoring two powerplay goals and adding a short handed one. Rob Brind’Amour scored his first powerplay goal of the period just over a minute into the second frame to tie the game at one.
Chad LaRose scored a shorthanded marker 10 minutes later on a bad giveaway by Souray to give the Hurricanes their first lead of the game. The lead only lasted a minute though, as Radek Bonk tapped one through Ward’s five-hole for his 10th goal of the season.
Brind’Amour rounded out the scoring in the second period with his second powerplay goal of the night. The goal was also the 400th of his career, and the 18th of the season. It also provided Carolina with a 3-2 lead going into the third period.
The Hurricanes took a commanding lead during the final 10 minutes of the game on goals by Erik Cole and Erik Staal, each goal was the 25th of the season for both players. Staal’s goal was the easier of the two, though, as it went into the empty net with Aebischer off for an extra attacker.
Tomas Plekaenc scored a nifty backhander on Carolina goalie Cam Ward during a penalty shot with 53 seconds remaining in the game. The 21-year-old set a career high for points with a goal and an assist tonight. His 31 points in 59 games (13 goals, 18 assists) surpassed last season’s total of 29 points in the 67 games he played. The bad news? Plekanec was a horrible 20% in the face-off circle tonight, winning only 3 of the 15 he took.
The Canadiens weren’t afraid to get physical this game either. As a whole, the Habs had 22 hits. Both Steve Begin and Michael Ryder lead the way with six each. It’s good to see Ryder keep working even if he isn’t scoring. Ryder’s -2 rating on the night pretty much negated his physical play though.
The Habs will see their next action Sunday night in Columbus. Rookie Jaroslav Halak is expected to make his first NHL start. Duncan Milroy, who made his NHL debut tonight, played a solid game. He played over 14 minutes on the Habs’ forth line and had three of Montreal’s 45 shots.