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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Montreal outplayed the Phoenix Coyotes pretty well and were backed by Carey Price who made some opportune saves to keep the Canadiens in the lead. In just the first five minutes of the game Montreal had 4 or 5 great scoring chances, but were thwarted early by Coyotes’ goaltender Ilja Bryzgalov.
On his third shot of the game Alex Tanguay scored his second goal of the season, line-mates Saku Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse picked up the assists. Tanguay was left wide open in the slot after Koivu had missed a shot while driving the net.
About 2 minutes later Shane Doan received an amazing pass while barrelling towards the Habs net and his cousin Carey Price. Doan made a move at the top of the crease but Price managed to reach his left leg across the crease to keep the Canadiens in the lead in highlight reel style.
Robert Lang took the only penalty of the period and despite not scoring the Coyotes’ power play was quite impressive and had tremendous puck control. The PK combo of Alex Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec, Roman Hamrlik and Ryan O’Byrne were unable to get off the ice for almost 90 seconds.
At 11:17 the Habs doubled their lead when Andrei Markov spotted Saku Koivu wide open to the left of Bryzgalov with a cross ice fake shot/pass. Koivu waited patiently before snapping his second of the season under the diving Coyotes’ goal keeper.
The second period begun with a scary moment for Andrei Kostitsyn, the Canadiens, and all of HabsWorld, as he was crushed on what can best be described as a debatable hit. I have watched it over and over and although it is not suspension worthy it certainly should have earned Kurt Sauer 2 minutes in the sin bin. Andrei had to be helped off the ice by three trainers, and despite being quite woozy and having a massive bruise under his left eye he did not go to the hospital and was seen joking with team-mates after the game. He will go for further testing tomorrow. Sergei (younger brother) of Andrei was visibly upset after his brother went down but a talk with Koivu on the bench seemed to settle the sophomores nerves.
Moments later Kovalev was slashed in the face by Enver Lisin and despite it not being intentional it was firm and with two hands on the stick, neither referee nor the two linesman managed to catch the act so it went un punished. Kovalev licked his wounds and returned to action without missing a shift.
After trading saves with Price, Bryzgalov would concede the next goal. While playing 4 on 4 with Shane Doan and Georges Laraque both in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Koivu slid a pass through the slot to Tanguay and with Bryzgalov down and out he roofed his second of the game and 3rd of the season, Andrei Markov picked up his second assist of the night and 8th of the season on the play.
Robert Lang added an unassisted power play goal in the final minute of the period to round out the Canadiens scoring in this game.
Half way through the 3rd Doan cracked his cousins shutout bid, as he tapped in a loose puck in the crease. The play started with a shot from the point by Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek, hitting a few sticks a bodies on the way, hitting the skate of Ryan O'Byrne and sitting in the crease for the easy tap in from Doan.
Sauer did end up defending his hit by dropping his gloves with Tom Kostopoulos, even though minutes earlier he turned down George Laraque's offer to drop the gloves. However, Georges Laraque had a go with Todd Fedoruk later on.