The Canadiens (37-22-9) picked up one of those wins that good teams get even when they don’t show up. Carey Price rebounded well and was awarded the games first star after his 37 save performance. Price kept the Canadiens in the game and despite being out shot 17-5.
Tomas Plekanec was able to open the scoring 6 minutes into the 2nd period. Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov both hit personal milestones on the opening goal with their 500th and 200th assists of their careers respectively.
Although Montreal opened the scoring they did not steal momentum as Phoenix continued to press and drew a 4 minute power play thanks to Maxim Lapierre and his reckless stick. Less then 30 seconds into the first half of the double minor Shane Doan (cousin of Price) deflected a point shot from Ed Jovanovski passed Price to tie the game at 1.
Three minutes later Lapierre was back in the box again for yet another double minor for high-sticking as he clipped Coyotes defenseman Nick Boynton in the mouth. Phoenix would not be successful on this opportunity thanks in large part to a nice bit of acting by Plekanec who drew a penalty Martin Hanzal.
Karma came around to bite Plekanec early in the third period as he received a lumber jack like slash to the back of his knee in plain view of the officials but no call was made as he writhed on the ice in pain. Just 90 seconds later after a brain cramp by both Michael Ryder and Francis Bouillon, Carey Price was beaten from what seemed like an impossible angle by Zbynek Michalek who potted his 4th goal of the season.
Lapierre was able to redeem himself for his early game errors by drawing a penalty on the Coyotes top face-off man Joel Perrault for hooking. Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau made the decision to change the power play units and it had an immediate effect. 28 seconds into the power play Saku Koivu swept his 14 of the year in a goal crease scramble. Alex Kovalev and Chris Higgins drew assists on the play.
Karma struck again minutes later as Derek Morris was sent of for roughing Andrei Markov deep in the Coyotes zone. Less than 20 seconds later Markov deflected a Kovalev pass to the right of Mikael Tellqvist to make it 3-2 Montreal.
Sergei Kostitsyn capped off a beautiful 2 on 0 with Higgins to provide the Canadiens the insurance they needed in the games final 2 minutes.
Scratches Tom Kostopoulos, Mikhail Grabovsky and Steve Begin.
1. Care Price – put on a show proving he can be the guy down the stretch.
2. Martin Hanzal- shut down the Kovalev trio at even strength all night long.
3. Alex Kovalev – three more assists for the rejuvenated Russian star.
1. The Canadiens are undefeated in their last 9 games against Phoenix. The last time they lost December 9th 1998.
2. After his most unproductive four games of the season with 0 points and a -4 rating Tomas Plekanec responded with 6 goals and 2 assists and a +4 rating in his last four games.
3. Carey Price is 7-2 in his last 9.