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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.
The Canadiens got two quick goals in the first period on Tuesday night vs Atlanta to end a near 200 minute scoring drought, and played a solid team game to earn their first points in over a week, defeating the Thrashers 3-1. After being shutout for 3 straight games, the tension leading into this game was palpable. An early goal was crucial in order to keep the crowd on their side and to give the team some much-needed confidence.
The game started with plenty of chances at both ends of the ice, including a Mike Cammalleri partial breakaway, in the first 10 minutes but neither team was able to bury their chances. It wasnít until 12:56 into the game that the Habs managed to break their drought when Roman Hamrlik scored after pinching in from the point. The fans didnít have to wait long to see another this time as only 11 seconds later Mathieu Darche scored from in close after a feed from Scott Gomez.
The score remained unchanged, largely thanks to Carey Price, into the third period when a controversial event happened. Atlanta managed to break Carey Priceís bid for a 9th shutout of the season after Nik Antropov scored off a feed from Eric Boulton but it was the events that lead to goal that were noteworthy. As Eric Boulton was skating by Hal Gill, his stick clearly high-sticked him in the face which caused him to pull up and gave the Thrashers a clear lane to the net. The referees subsequently huddled around to discuss the play but to no avail as the goal stood and no penalty was called, even though the high-stick drew blood.
This made for a nerve-racking last 10 minutes of the game but the Canadiens managed to hold on and eventually the game was sealed with an Andrei Kostitsyn empty net goal to give the Canadiens a 3-1 win.
HW 3 Stars of the Night:
1st Star: Carey Price (35th win, 27 saves, .964 SV%)
It may seem a bit repetitive but Carey Price was once again the best Canadien on the ice. His stellar play covers up many of the mistakes made by his teammates and he once again gave his team the chance to win which they finally took him up on.
2nd Star: Andrei Kostitsyn (1 goal, 2 shots, 15:52 TOI)
He may only have got on the scoresheet based on an empty-net goal but has was a force throughout the game. He had his legs moving throughout the game and was involved in some big collisions. He played such a good game that Jacques Martin had enough confidence in him to have him on the ice protecting a 1-goal lead which allowed him to score the aforementioned empty-net goal.
3rd Star: Roman Hamrlik (1 goal, 3 shots, 23:33 TOI)
He deserves a star for the sole purpose of being the player to break the goal-scoring drought but he also deserves it for much more. He logged 23:33 minutes of ice-time (only James Wisniewski had more at 24: 24) and played a good defensive game. I keep thinking he canít keep up this pace at his age but he keeps surprising me and hopefully he doesnít stop.
Stat of the Night:
The Canadiens went 0/4 on the powerplay including long stretches where the Habs couldnít sustain any pressure and also gave up some decent scoring chances to the Thrashers. For a team where the coach stresses the importance of special teams this is something that will have to improve come the postseason.