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The Habs travelled to Florida looking to end their season long five game road
trip on a winning note and they did just that, dominating the Panthers en route
to a 5-2 victory.  As a result, Montreal heads home having won all but one
of the games in that span.  As has been the case with their recent
victories, balanced scoring was a huge reason of the Canadiens’ success on
Sunday night.

The game got off to a perfect start for Montreal as David Desharnais opened
the scoring before the two minute mark of the first period, putting Florida on
their heels early on.  The Habs doubled their lead on the powerplay as
Michael Ryder finally ended his scoring drought, tipping home a P.K. Subban
wrist shot.  On that goal, Tomas Plekanec also snapped a career high-tying
thirteen game assist-less streak. 

Although it took most of the second period, the Canadiens were able to add to
their lead with a Brian Gionta goal with less than five minutes left in the
frame.  Francis Bouillon also got in on the scoring fun, picking up his
first goal of the year before the end of the period, giving the Habs a 4-0 lead. 

As it turns out, Bouillon had so much fun scoring once, he wanted to do so
again.  The problem was, this time he scored into his own net, wristing one
top shelf past a bewildered Peter Budaj, who was making his sixth start of the
season.  If anyone’s curious, the blueliner has never scored twice in a
game…well, for the same team at least.  Although this goal, credited to
Tomas Kopecky, didn’t give the Panthers much momentum, they were able to create
some nervous moments for Montreal fans as Shawn Matthias cut the deficit to two
with six minutes to play.  However, a late (and somewhat questionable)
holding penalty to Kris Versteeg allowed the Canadiens to ice it as Ryder tipped
home a Subban wrister for the second time in the game to give the Habs the 5-2

Budaj wasn’t tested often in the game but did enough to pick up his fourth
straight victory, stopping 14 of 16 shots in the process.  Jacob Markstrom
allowed five goals on 38 shots in the loss but made several high quality saves
to keep the game somewhat within reach for Florida.  Montreal’s powerplay
continues to produce as of late; the team was two for six with the man advantage
while Florida did not score on their lone opportunity.

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star: P.K. Subban – Remember all that talk about him being
eased in, or how some thought Michel Therrien was upset with him when he was
seeing fourth or fifth defenceman minutes?  I think that can all be thrown
out the window now as he has re-ascended himself into the top spot.  He is
making better decisions on the powerplay and being paired up with Josh Gorges
has helped his 5-on-5 play.  There’s nothing to complain about with his
play in this one.

Stats: 3 assists, +2 rating, 5 shots, 2 blocks, 24:42 TOI

2nd Star: Michael Ryder – It was only a matter of time before
he picked up his first goal since the trade (his 100th as a Hab all-time). 
After being benched earlier in the week, he looked much more confident with
Plekanec and Gionta despite playing on his off-wing.  He’s a streaky
scorer, perhaps this gets him going.

Stats: 2 goals, 1 assist, +2 rating, 2 shots, 2 hits, 14:46 TOI

3rd Star: Brian Gionta – The captain has really picked up his
game lately and is starting to become more reliable in the goal scoring
department.  He is getting to the right spots on the ice instead of
shooting from the wings as he often does.  This was his 200th regular
season game in a Montreal uniform. 

Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 3 shots, 1 takeaway, 16:50 TOI

Honourable Mention: Brendan Gallagher – There were times when
the Habs seemed to let up in terms of pressure.  Whenever Gallagher got on
the ice, the pressure was back on.  Even though he isn’t scoring as much
lately as he was early on, I would say he’s the catalyst for the offence; his
energy is contagious.

Stats: 1 assist, -1 rating, 2 PIMS, 7 shots, 1 takeaway, 15:46 TOI

Stats of the Night: This game featured every player named Colby
on an active NHL roster – Colby Armstrong of the Habs (who quietly had a solid
game in his own right) and Colby Robak, a young defenceman for the Panthers. 
With Montreal having won all three games against Florida this season, this marks
the first time ever that the Canadiens have swept the season series.