HabsWorld.net -- 

In the second game of a back-to-back out west, the Montreal Canadiens came
out on the losing end of a 5-2 game to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. In
what was the debut for new Canadiens Thomas Vanek and Mike Weaver, the Canadiens
fell behind just two minutes into the game when Radim Vrbata tipped in a David
Schlemko point shot through a screen where Peter Budaj never saw it. The
Canadiens were able to draw even five minutes later when Andrei Markov beat Mike
Smith with a rocket from the top of the circle. The Habs went down a man when
Lars Eller got called for tripping in the offensive zone and the Coyotes
subsequently made them pay on the powerplay as Lauri Korpikoski tipped in a
Michael Stone point shot. The Coyotes stretched their lead to two when Oliver
Ekman-Larsson ripped a wrister top corner after a nice pass from former Canadien
Mike Ribeiro with only 8.5 seconds left in the 1st period.

The Canadiens were dominant in the 2nd period outshooting the Coyotes 12-1
but were only able to score once. The goal came on a 5-on-3 man advantage where
Alex Galchenyuk redirected a P.K. Subban point shot. Montreal had an opportunity
to even the score early in the 3rd period when Jeff Halpern, another former Hab,
was sent to the box for slashing but the Canadiens were unable to capitalize. In
the 3rd period the tiring effect of the back-to-back seemed apparent as Montreal
was not able to generate any serious scoring chances. Phoenix again stretched
their lead to two goals when with just over eight minutes remaining a Jarred
Tinordi turnover at the Phoenix blueline resulted in a 2-on-1 and when Subban
over committed to the shooter, Vrbata was able to score his second goal of the
game. The final nail was put into the coffin just a minute and a half later when
with Phoenix on the powerplay, Shane Doan tipped a Keith Yandle point shot
passed a screened Budaj.

All in all the Canadiens put forth a solid effort but without much puck luck
they were left chasing the game most of the night. They were unable to contain
the 10th ranked Phoenix powerplay allowing two goals on only three opportunities
for the Coyotes. To add to their troubles, the Canadiens were unable to generate
enough on their own powerplay chances managing to score only once in five
opportunities and the goal came while having a 2-man advantage. In the third
their fatigue started to show as they never seriously threatened the Coyotes in
the first 12 minutes of the period when it was still a one goal game. On a
positive note, Mike Weaver play came as advertised as he was sound defensively
with smart positional play.

HW 3 Stars

1st Star: Radim Vrbata: He scored the two biggest goals of the game
for the Coyotes, the first one putting the team up early and then the fourth one
which essentially sealed the deal with eight minutes to go in the game.

2nd Star: Mike Smith: The Coyote ‘tender was solid making 24 saves on
26 Montreal shots. He had absolutely no chance on the Markov blast or the goal
that the Habs scored on their 5-on-3. He did a good job keeping Phoenix in front
during the second period when the Habs dominated play and peppered him with 12

3rd Star: Oliver Ekman-Larsson: He played a solid game with a goal and
an assist to go along with strong defensive play. His goal was particularly back
breaking for the Habs as it came with only 8.5 seconds left in the 1st period.