The Canadiens went unsuccessful in their attempt to beat the Chicago Blackhawk’s for the 300th time in their history. Neither team played particularly well in a choppy and rather boring game. 15 minor penalties were called but neither the 5th or 6th ranked powerplay’s could manage a single goal going collectively 0-13.
The opening goal was scored on the opening shift by the NHL’s leading point scorer Martin Havlat. Havlat gathered the puck in the neutral zone flew into the offensive zone around Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov and mishandled the puck but it slid between David Aebischers’ pads.
The Canadiens would tie the game before the end of the first period. Just two seconds after Bryan Smolinski exited the penalty box Chris Higgins buried his own rebound collecting his team leading 4th goal of the season. Michael Ryder and Mark Streit picked up assists on the goal.
The second period saw the Canadiens provide the Blackhawk’s with four powerplay’s one of which was a 2 man advantage for well over a minute, but yet again the Canadiens top of the league penalty kill was up to the task and barley allowed the Blackhawk’s to get a shot on goal much less a decent scoring chance. The Habs out-shot Chicago 9-4 in a rather dull period.
Just two minutes into the third period Tony Salmelainen sent a pass between Mark Streit and Tomas Plekanec to Bryan Smolinski who slid the puck between Aebischers’ pads for when ended up being the game winning goal.
Chicago forward Patrick Sharp took a tripping penalty with a little less than 2 minutes left in the third period but the Canadiens were once again unable to put the puck past Nikolai Khabibulin.
Garth Murray was inserted back into the Canadiens line-up in place of the concussed Aaron Downey, who was released from the hospital yesterday. Alexander Perezhogin earned a bump to the second line with Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec while Samsonov was demoted to the third line with Bonk and Johnson.
Nikolai Khabibulin- made numerous great saves, none better then the back to back stops on Chris Higgins attempts to jam the puck in along the goal line in the first period.
Martin Havlat- scored an unassisted goal to grab a share of the goal scoring lead and maintain his grip on the points lead.
David Aebischer- was no slouch at the other end of the ice stopping 2 breakaways and making an incredible cross crease save on Brent Seabrook while short handed in the third period to keep the Canadiens in the game.
For the first time this season Saku Koivu was below 50% in the face-off circle. Blackhawk’s centre Michal Handzus dominated Koivu allowing him to only win 6 of 17 face-offs.
Not one player in the line-up for the Chicago Blackhawk’s was in the line-up the last time the Canadiens and Hawks met (Feb. 1st 2004), the Canadiens had 6, (Koivu, Rivet, Markov, Ryder, Souray and Begin)
Although Havlat scored in his opening shift it is the first time this season he did not record at least two points.