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A struggling Tampa Bay team who hadn’t won in their last 4 games didn’t get the easy game they were hoping for against the lowly Canadiens to get them back on track. Instead what they got was a good fight, an inspired effort by the Habs… and despite a late scare Montreal came away with a surprising 3-2 win.


Theodore finally has his 100th NHL win.



Montreal 1-0: In a good physical 1st period with some good entertaining hockey, both teams took advantage of some lucky bounces to score their team’s first goal. First it was Tampa who took the lead, Kubina’s shot from the point is deflected by his checker… it deflects to the side of the net where Taylor was left wide open. Theo is caught off guard by the deflection and Taylor knocks it in the open net.

Perreault had Taylor earlier in the play but had let him go as he assumed Komisarek would switch over with him in front of the net. Trouble is Mike never looked at the front of the net, he was completely focused at a man in the corner… rookie mistake or bad communication between the two, call it want you want.


Tampa Bay 1-1: The Habs then get a lucky bounce of their own. Markov creates a turnover in the offensive zone and sends it to Zednik who tries to immediately get a shot away, but he too sees his shot get deflected to the side of the net by his checker… directly to Koivu who takes advantage of a helpless Khabibulin to tie the game.


Montreal 2-1: The play really slows down in the 2nd period, the teams decide to tighten up defensively so the fans don’t have much to get excited about. Then finally near the end of the period, the Perreault control line controls the puck in the offensive zone for an extend period and end up forcing Tampa to take a penalty.

The same Perreault line says on with Rivet playing forward to start the power-play, but they can’t anything going… then the Koivu line gets on the ice and Zednik scores from the slot when fed by Saku from behind the net. So technically it won’t count as a PP goal since the penalty had just expired, but this is in effect a PP goal… the Koivu line had really been productive on the PP since that line was put together.


Tampa Bay 2-2: Although the Habs have a tendency to sit on their leads, they did create some good chances in the 3rd period… Zednik hit the crossbar and Dackell managed to miss the net from a few feet away. And they could have used an extra goal, because Lecavalier would tie the game with four minutes left. Perreault wins the faceoff but Quintal loses the puck, it’s sent back to Lecavalier in the slot… Perreault just can’t contain him physically. Souray comes in to help out but Lecavalier spins away from him and lets a quick shot go along the ice… Theo never sees it and it goes in.


Montreal 3-2: Just when it looked like the Canadiens blew another one against a Florida team, Bulis speeds down the wing on his off side and manages to slip a backhander in with practically no angle… completely surprising Khabibulin. I’ve been saying for a while now that Bulis can do more offensively than he’s been doing, the Habs need him to produce.





          Claude Julien first told Ribeiro that he would only play if Juneau‘s hip injury would prevent the veteran from dressing. Then Juneau does in fact miss the game, but Ribeiro is benched anyway… only to allow a 7th defenseman to play on offense. You bench your top point leader so you can play a defenseman at forward, and this on a team desperate for scoring? Yeah, I’m sure that makes sense to you too. Apparently Julien had warned Ribeiro to keep his shifts short for some time, and since it was still happening he decided to make the message even clearer.

         Speaking of playing a defenseman as a forward… Rivet was chosen for that honour. And he did well, provided an added physical dimension to the 4th line that Kilger, Dagenais or Sundstrom simply can’t deliver. He was also used as a D man on the PK, and as a forward on the PP… so he was Mr. Versatility tonight. I wouldn’t mind seeing that again, only sit someone else than Ribeiro ok?

         Speaking of Rivet, he was booed every time he touched the puck. It was stupid when it was done to Brisebois in the past and it’s just as stupid now. If the player makes a mistake fine, but attacking a player all night is just wrong… especially when he’s having a good night! Those fans make me just as sick as they do Gainey.

         The benching of Ribeiro create such a stir, the fans started chanting “Ribeiro” when the Habs were faltering on the power-play. Later in that same PP, Zednik scored from Koivu.  

         Julien might be making some questionable decisions with who he decides to bench, but the Habs win when he does it. The won the first game Perreault was benched, won the game Quintal was benched, and now beat Tampa 2-1 when Ribeiro was in the press-box. We don’t have to agree with it, but we can’t deny the results.

         On the statistical side, it was the first time this year the Habs won a game in which they did not score the first goal. Also the Habs are now 9-0-1 when they lead after 2 periods, but on the other side they’re a perfect 0-10 when they are behind after two. Does this mean we can stop watching the games after 2 periods? Just asking.




Habs’ hero: Koivu got the first star and he did have a very good game, but I’d give the edge to Zednik. He was really on tonight, playing with passion… did all the work on the Koivu goal, then scored on the PP again, them hit the crossbar.

Julien pointed out Bégin’s good play, a guy who works hard in the trenches but doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. He was his usual pest on the ice, hitting everything that moved, blocking shots, working hard.

There’s also Theodore who make the big stops all night, again a few breakaways. And finally, kudos to Rivet for doing a good job wherever the coach used him… despite suffering an undeserved avalanche of boos all night long.


Habs’ zero: The whole team played well, so I’ll give it to Claude Julien… and no, not for benching Ribeiro or using a defenseman at forward. It’s about how he continually places his players incorrectly on important faceoffs. Quintal was placed near the boards on a faceoff and it cost them the Calgary game, and tonight it almost happened again. With Montreal up 2-1 in the 3rd period with less than 7 minutes left… on a faceoff just outside Tampa‘s blueline Julien had Zednik lineup alone on the opposite side of the ice and Brisebois then had to come up in the normal RWer’s spot. Right off the faceoff the quick Tampa winger speeded by Brisebois and went in alone on Theodore… who luckily saved the day, or the player just missed the net I’m not sure if he got a piece of it. Julien has to correct those mistakes… because we can’t afford to be blowing games because of something as simply as bad positioning on faceoffs.

Other fast fact about those two plays, Koivu losing the draw was what allowed the opposition to take advantage of Julien’s mistakes.  



Final Thoughts:


One night you want to kill them, they next they come out with a performance like tonight… and we ask, why can’t they play like this every time? I’d even settle for “most” of the time, hell even “half” at this point.


Well despite all the controversy of the Ribeiro benching, the Habs won… and isn’t that what is important?


Let’s just enjoy the win, and more importantly how they played, because we never know how long it might be until the next performance like this.