After a few months of mediocrity the Habs seemed to regain their early form on the special teams Tuesday night picking up a short handed goal as well as a three power play goals thanks completely to the first line of Ryder Higgins and Koivu.
In a night marred with technical difficulty the Habs power play worked like clock work. Twice the scoreboard had technical difficulties and both of the national anthems went without lyrics due to a faulty microphone. Also late during the first period the time keepers could not figure out which penalty to take off the score board after the Canadiens scored.
The Canadiens opened the scoring just 22 seconds into their first power play when Chris Higgins scored during a goal crease scramble. The goal was Higgins first since January 13th against the Ottawa Senators a span of 16 games, Saku Koivu & Mark Streit picked up assists on the goal.
Just over six minutes later Alexander Perezhogin was given a double minor for high sticking. The odd thing was neither referee saw what happened and the play continued with the Canadiens having possession for more than 15 seconds. When the play was finally blown dead the referees were made to look even more foolish when the replay showed an elbow and no stick infraction at all. Shaone Morrisonn was cut on the play and Capitals head coach Glen Hanlon wanted a 5 minute major for Perezhogin. The situation reminded me of the Koivu incident in the playoffs where both referees did not see the Williams high stick….hmmmm there is something to be said for consistency.
During Perezhogin’s double minor the Canadiens drew three penalties and scored a pair of 4 on 3 power play goals. Sheldon Souray put the puck on a silver platter for Michael Ryder whose shot went off the post and in, Saku Koivu also assisted on the goal. Ryder’s goal marked the first time he had scored in consecutive games since January 9th and 11th. Less than a minute later Chris Higgins was the benefactor of a gorgeous pass from Saku Koivu, Michael Ryder also picked up an assist. Higgins would end up leaving the game in the final minutes with an upper body injury his status will be more clear later today.
After taking only six shots and six minor penalties in the first period the Capitals came out flying in the second and scored two goals just thirty seconds apart. The goals came from an unlikely source’s Brian Sutherby and Jamie Heward. Both of goals came from Heward shots which were deflected the first by Sutherby and the second off either Maxim Lapierre or Sheldon Souray.
In the final five minutes of the third period Chris Higgins was sent to the box for high sticking, the Habs second double minor of the game. But it was here the game truly swung in the Canadiens favour. Michael Ryder headed up ice on a 2 on 2 rush with Saku Koivu. Ryder would usually pass in this situation but he recognized the defender on him was actually a forward Alexander Semin. Ryder put a dipsy doodle on him and then roofed his second of the game and 19th of the season. The goal will surely be seen on highlight reels for the rest of the season.
Alexander Semin did reply with an end-to-end rush of his own with seven seconds remaining in Higgins double minor and 34 seconds in the third period.
The third period was a defensive one with very few scoring chances thanks in large part to the Canadiens third line of Radek Bonk, Mike Johnson and Garth Murray, who limited to Alexander Ovechkin to just on shot per period and honestly not one legitimate scoring change.
Game Notes: Steve Begin will be out with at least 10 days after blocking a shot with his foot; Craig Rivet, Alex Kovalev and Cristobal Huet remain out for the Canadiens.
1. Michael Ryder- Ryder scored two goals including the game winner as well as an assist. With 19 goals now he could still end up the Canadiens leading goal scorer for the second consecutive year.
2. Saku Koivu- Koivu earned three assists as he has appeared to be silencing his critics once again who were asking for his head earlier in the week.
3. Jamie Heward- this was his first three point game since December 2005.
Honourable mention to Garth Murray who blocked three shots in the game and his tenacious for check helped the third line shut down Ovechkin.
1. Last nights game was Mike Komisarek’s 200th of his career and 101st consecutive game.
2. The Canadiens who still rank second in power play percentage scored three in one game for the first time January 6th. The Habs have now scored 3+ power play goals six times this season.
3. The Canadiens now have 16 short handed goals from nine different players far and away the league’s best in that category.
4. Alexander Ovechkin has been ice cold with just one goal and one assist in his last 8 games