Yep, the Canadiens are tied for first place and no it’s not October, it’s the middle of February. Thanks to a New Jersey Devils win over the Senators on Saturday, and a weekend sweep over the Flyers the Canadiens are now tied with the Senators at 73 points, though Ottawa has played 1 less game.
Saturday night Carey Price stole the show with a 10 save performance in the third period while the Canadiens were 2 men short (Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov) for almost a full two minutes. Price also recorded his first career shutout and earned the start for Sunday’s rematch in Philadelphia.
The first game was a physical one, marred with penalty’s to both teams. A total of 34 penalty minutes were dolled out to the two teams but on the 12 total power plays just one goal was scored by the leagues two highest ranked teams in that category.
The lone goal was scored in spectacular fashion by Andrei Kostitsyn in the 2nd period. The goal was very similar to the one Ovechkin scored last year against the Phoenix Coyotes. Andrei Markov and Alex Kovalev picked up assists on the Power play goal.
Sunday night was as expected even more physical as the hatred seemed to grow over 24 hours.
Alex Kovalev opened the scoring 6:18 into the first period, completing some adept passing work made by his line mates Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. Three minutes later while on the power play Kovalev point shot was blocked by Mike Richards. Richards turned the puck up ice on a 2 on 1 and beat Price with a nifty fake and a great wrist shot.
Francois Bouillon who has strung together 6 very good games in a row continued to play well and was rewarded in the dying minutes of the first period with a 2 on 1 opportunity with Tomas Plekanec, Bouillon kept the puck and roofed his first of the season over the shoulder of Antero Niittymaki. Bouillon was given the opportunity because of a gathering to the left of Carey Price deep in the Canadiens zone. Price later told the media he advised Gorges not to drop his gloves. Price said he could see the play developing.
Braydon Coburn tied the game 34 seconds into the 2nd frame with a fluke goal which was deflected by Komisarek and over the head of Scott Hartnell and behind Price.
Michael Ryder who was inserted into the line-up in favour of Tom Kostopoulos scored less then 2 minutes later to restore the Canadiens lead. Saku Koivu added a power play goal at the mid way point of the period.
Maxim Lapierre and Riley Cote exchanged meaningless goals in the final 90 seconds.
Game Notes: Steve Begin and Michael Ryder were back in the line-up for the Canadiens as Tom Kostopoulos and Bryan Smolinski were the healthy scratches.
The Stars for the weekend
1. Alex Kovalev- 4 points and he was without a doubt the best player on the ice.
2. Andrei Markov – also four points and many mean hits along with over 50 minutes of ice time.
3. Francois Bouillon/Carey Price – both had a wonderful weekend, Bouillon was a force in all 3 zones and Price was the calming force that allowed the Canadiens to steal 2 points on Saturday night.
1. This is the first time since 1976-77 season that the Canadiens swept the season series with the Flyers. That year Montreal outscored the Flyers 24-9 in four meetings.
2. Carey Price picked up his second career assist, his first was against the Senators.
3. The Habs are 11-3-4 in games where they score at least one power play goal and hold the opposition to 0.