The Devils continued their mastery in Montreal, prevailing 4-1 in the Superbowl Sunday matinee. The Canadiens were unable to capitalize on a Martin Brodeur injury which limited to only 20 minutes of action. Towards the middle of the opening period, Brodeur appeared to injure his right knee and, although he finished the frame, was in visible discomfort. He did not return for the second period and was replaced by Hedberg, who made 14 saves on 15 shots in the win.
The Canadiens began the game sleepily, committing many turnovers and conceding two quick tallies. Danius Zubrus capitalized on a Hal Gill mistake to give his team an early lead while Ilya Kovalchuk tipped in his 16th goal of the season less than three minutes later. A mid-period powerplay saw the Habs produce some scoring chances, but the man advantage was unable to beat Martin Brodeur.
Early in the second, Travis Zajac added to his team’s lead, tapping in a loose puck and giving the visitors a commanding three-goal lead. A few minutes later, P.K Subban responded with his team’s first tally, taking a point shot which eventually deflected off Kovalchuk’s stick en route to the net. While Montreal subsequently played more energetically, but New Jersey nonetheless dominated the period 14-6 on the shot clock.
The Canadiens obtained many convincing scoring chances in the final period, with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta both unable to profit from loose pucks in the crease. Near the 11-minute mark, a high puck bounced off the back Johan Hedberg’s mask and looked as if it may have entered the net. It was however deemed the puck never crossed the goal line. The Canadiens continued to press for most of the period, but failed to cut into the Devils’ lead. Kovalchuk added an empty net goal to seal the win for his squad. Carey Price made 26 saves in a losing effort.
HW 3 Stars of the Afternoon
1. Scott Gomez : As hard as I can be on the richly paid center, it is clear that Gomez had one of his better games of the season and was an offensive catalyst. He carried the puck well, attacked the middle of the ice and set up Subban’s goal nicely. The only caveat is his 36% efficiency on faceoffs.
Statline: 0 G, 1 A, -1, 2 Shots, 0 hits, 22:36 TOI
2. Brian Gionta : The diminutive captain seemed to rekindle some chemistry with the aforementioned Gomez and was one of the team’s most consistent offensive threats. Unfortunately, the Rochester native failed to take advantage of his chances, especially in the third period.
Statline: 0 G, 0 A, -1, 4 Shots, 2 hits, 22:00 TOI
3. P.K Subban :With Gorges and Markov already out for the season as well as Wisniewki’s absence this weekend, it is unimaginable how anaemic the blueline would be without the dynamic rookie. The most used player on either team, P.K Subban was a positive force for his team regardless of his -2 rating.
Statline: 1 G, 0 A, -2, 3 shots, 2 blocked shots, 24:48 TOI
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at [email protected]