With the 5-1 victory for the Hurricanes last night they completed the season series sweep over the Montreal Canadiens. Although the Hurricanes won 5-1 the score was not indicative of how the game unfolded. The first period ended in a scoreless draw as Martin Gerber and David Aebischer made 12 and 14 saves respectively; both teams were unsuccessful on their single power play chance. Carolina opened the scoring after a Gerber had robbed Michael Ryder during an odd man rush creating a transition opportunity for Justin Williams and Ray Whitney, Aebischer made the original save on Williams but was left helpless for the rebound when Williams and Francis Bouillon collided with the Canadiens goalie forcing him into his own net providing ample opportunity for Whitney to break the deadlock with his 13th goal of the campaign. The Hurricanes improved their lead in the second period just three seconds after their second power play had expired. The goal was of the tic-tac-toe variety, the tic and tac were supplied by Matt Cullen and Rod Brind’Amour and Justin William’s provided the toe for his 23rd goal of the season. The second period was evenly played but the Canadiens who have had difficulty scoring of late where held scoreless for yet another period. The Habs came out energized in the third period dominating play for the opening minutes. While controlling play Mike Ribero drew a penalty and proceeded to slide a pass to Mathieu Dandenault who one timed the puck past the screened Canes goaltender cutting the deficit in half. However the Canadiens were unable to build on that goal as Carolina took over the game soon after. With a little more than ten minutes remaining in the third period Aebischer robbed Williams on a clear cut breakaway but the Canadiens made a weak clearing attempt and Craig Rivet was looking for a line change when Williams walked in on a mini two on one rush against Souray and Aebischer. Williams did not hesitate he immediately fired the puck into the top corner of the net restoring the Hurricanes two goal lead with his second of the game. The Hurricanes would go on to add two power play goals in the final five minutes one from Ray Whitney who had also scored earlier in the game and the final Carolina goal was scored by Eric Stall who now has forty goals this season.
Markov Canadiens MVP
With out a doubt Andrei Markov is the most valuable player to his team for the simple fact that when he is out of the line up the Canadiens find it near impossible finish the game victorious. Markov has been in the line-up for 52 of the Canadiens 65 games this season, the Canadiens record in those games is 28-16-8 but when Markov has been unable to dress for the Canadiens their record is a measly 3-9-1. The sooner Markov heals from the back spasms that currently ail him the better as Montreal’s lead on the eights and final playoff spot is now just a single point over the Atlanta Thrashers. The Canadiens next ten games are all against teams currently below them in the standings, seven of those games are also on home ice. Those ten games will be the deciding factor on where the Canadiens finish in the Easter Conference playoff race. Markov had a light workout yesterday and is expect to skate sometime today. Bob Gainey will no doubt be crossing his fingers and hoping his star defenseman will return to the active roster Saturday when the Canadiens will host Crosby and the Penguins.
1. J. Williams
2. E. Stall
3. D. Aebischer
1. For the first time in NHL history three Swiss born players all played in the same NHL hockey game.
2. The Hurricanes scored 25 goals against the Canadiens this season in just 4 games. Wondering how many games it would take the Canadiens to score 25? Well here’s your answer nine games, that is to say in the Canadiens past nine games they have managed to only score 25 times.
3. Saku Koivu has not scored in sixteen consecutive games.