Saku Koivu ended his twenty three game goalless drought in dramatic fashion as he stole the puck from Capitals forward Dainius Zubrus and scored a break away goal in overtime extending the Canadiens winning streak to five games.
The first period was dominated by the Canadiens thanks to an aggressive fore checking game and five power plays. Although the Canadiens have the fourth best home power play they were thwarted in each of their attempts by Olaf Kolzig who was nothing less than spectacular making seventeen first period saves. Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet had a rather dull period and was only called upon to make seven stops.
Chris Higgins and Saku Koivu worked the give and go to perfection half way through the second period to open the scoring. Sheldon Souray provided the odd man rush with his stretch pass from deep in the Canadiens zone. However the Canadiens lead would be brief, with a little more than a minute and a half remaining in the second period Alexander Ovechkin launched a wrist shot at Cristobal Huet, Huet kicked the rebound to his right and Ben Clymer was able to get the puck past Craig Rivet and Steve Begin who both dropped to the ice in a last ditch effort to bail out their goalie.
The Canadiens regained the lead in the third period while enjoying their ninth power play of the evening. Saku Koivu had lost the face off to Jeff Halpern, but the puck wound up directly in front of Kolzig. Kolzig bobbled his clearing attempt and Chris Higgins pounced on the puck scoring his second of the game and fifth in his three. Kolzig was visibly upset with him self as he lay face down on the ice until play resumed at centre ice.
With time winding down in the third period Aaron Downey goaded Ovechkin into taking a high sticking penalty. With the Capitals most potent offensive threat in the penalty box the Canadiens had appeared to wrap things up but while back checking on the power play Mike Ribeiro received a questionable hooking penalty. Kolzig went to the bench for an extra attacker Ovechkin was released from the penalty box with nineteen seconds left. Ovechkin won a battle behind the Canadiens net and sent a pass through the slot. The puck found its way to Halpern who slid the puck past Huet with slightly over two seconds remaining and sent the game into overtime.
Although the Canadiens won their fifth straight game they still find themselves in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, as both the New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning both emerged victorious last night as well. On a positive note for the Canadiens the gap has been increased to seven points between them and the ninth place Atlanta Thrashers.
Notes: Jan Bulis remained a healthy scratch for the Canadiens, as he joined Niklas Sundstrom and Todd Simpson in the press box. Francis Bouillon remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
1. Chris Higgins
2. Alexander Ovechkin
3. Saku Koivu
1. Since the Olympic break no NHL player has scored more then Chris Higgin’s who has twelve goals in that span.
2. Higgins, Koivu and Souray are all currently enjoying five game point streaks.
3. Cristobal Huet has equalized the all time single Canadiens’ season save percentage mark of .931. If he can continue his recent play, he may raise the bar before season end and steal the title from Jose Theodore.
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