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After a heartbreaking defeat against the Flyers Monday night in which they squandered a late lead, the Montreal Canadiens held on this time and came away with a 2-1 win and an important two points against a team just behind them in the race for 8th spot in the Eastern Conference.


Montreal 1-0: The bad ice at Madison Square Garden resulted in a lot of bouncing pucks and numerous turnovers, there was just no flow to the game. Midway in the first period Bulis uses his speed to apply a quick forecheck, and creates the turnover. Ryder picks up the puck, skates behind the net and out the other side, then finds Ribeiro parked right in the crease… and he beats Dunham to open the scoring.


New York 1-1: The Rangers come out for the 2nd period with a clear intention of ramping up the physical play, and it works. They start controlling the play more, and it eventually pays off. Messier wins the offensive zone faceoff against Perreault, Langdon is too slow getting to the point… De Vries has time to unload his shot. Chris Simon brushes off Quintal in front of the net and deflect the shot past Theodore… the Habs’ big defensemen can’t be letting big bodies like Simon, or LeClair in the last game, get to the net so easily.


Montreal 2-1: The teams enter the 3rd period tied at one, and it all comes down to which team will take advantage of a mistake by the opposition. It turns out to be Nedved who fails to get the puck out along the boards thanks to some good checking by Koivu, the puck comes right back to Bulis who lets it go from the circle and beats Dunham with a wrist shot top corner glove side.





         Messier absolutely owned Perreault in the faceoff circle tonight, to the point where Julien was forced to use Chad Kilger in the key faceoffs at the end of the game… and it almost cost the Habs the win as the Rangers got a great chance to tie it late but Holik completely missed an open net. Kilger later managed to tie Messier up in the last play of the game.

          Bégin suffered a shoulder injury in the 1st period and did not return, is listed as day-to-day. Brisebois suffered a possible groin injury late in the game as well… although it is not known where he’ll be able to play through it. Garon apparently also has a groin injury, suffered either in the Philly game or during practice today. Ward has started skating again, he should be ready to return next week.

         On the health front Juneau is ready and now that Bégin is injured he will likely return to the 3rd line, while it is still unknown whether a healthy Audette will get a chance to play in Florida.



Habs’ hero: Bulis by a mile… and yet he doesn’t get the first star, go figure. I had been begging for him to be put on the top lines, and man has he answered the bell or what. He is all over the ice, he is the team’s best forechecker, best penalty killer, best overall player period. No other Hab combines speed, size, defensive ability, offensive skill, can pass & shoot… if he can develop just a bit of an edge, get little nastier out there, he’ll be the perfect player.

Theo was rock solid once more, Koivu & Ribeiro also had strong games.


Habs’ zero: Langdon had himself a bad night. A bad elbowing penalty, then he’s dropped easily by Chris Simon, then he’s late covering his point man off a faceoff and it results in the Ranger’s only goal.

Perreault, the supposed faceoff king, looked silly all night against Messier… once wonders how long he will remain a Hab given the fact he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year.

Quintal is still not playing well, got tangled up with Theodore once again and it almost cost a goal, and failed to keep up with Simon who scored the lone Ranger goal. The way he’s playing right now, Komisarek is a better option.



Final Thoughts:


I had a déjà-vu feeling when the Habs struck the post twice in the 3rd period when they were ahead 2-1. They had missed similar opportunities to put the game away against Philly and it came back to haunt them, but thankfully this time they managed to hang on… barely.


But still the fact is the Habs are creating scoring opportunities even when they’re already ahead in the 3rd period, and that’s a very good thing. When they were in their slump, they’d barely manage 3-5 shots in the 3rd period and that just doesn’t cut it. Better 3rd period play will lead to more wins, and that’s what we’re seeing right now.


This game could have gone either way, but that’s what happens with .500 teams… the margin between winning & losing is so very small. And we can look forward to more of the same as the Habs now head to Florida to lock horns with the Panthers.