The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Thursday January 31st, 2008
Opponent: Washington Capitals
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Final Score: 4-5 (OT) - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (OT)
Opposition starting goalie: Olaf Kolzig (W)
Habs goalscorers: Sergei Kostitsyn, Andrei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Alexander Ovechkin (4), Viktor Kozlov
There's a first time for everything, so they say. What they didn't tell you is that every game, something happens for the first time, you just have to look harder in March...
1st Time the Kostitsyn's have socred in the same game
1st Time we have come back from 3 goals down to earn a point this year
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
The play of the game wasn't our prettiest, but it earned us one point, a point which may come in very handy down the road. Carbo showed a lot of courage at the end of the game sending out a very unlikely group to try and tie it up: Koivu, Plekanec, S. Kostitsyn, Latendresse, Markov and Streit. Those 6 players all played very well tonight and it was nice to see that Carbo was willing to live or die by their efforts. The Habs were pressing in the last minute and although it looked very hectic we obviously had it under control. We were able to keep the puck in and Streit let one go from the point. Mark's shot/pass went straight to Pleks in the slot who defected it just to the right of Kolzig. The puck was loose for a long time (most refs would have whistled thinking Olie had it) when finally Gui spotted it in the crease and tucked it home.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Sergei had a goal and assist tonight while finishing a team high +3. His assist, on Latendresse's first goal, was quite spectacular as he found a wide open Latendresse in the slot. He was flying around the ice all night. This was the first game since his demotion to the fourth line, about 2 weeks ago, where I have really noticed him. His linemates were great tonight, the only 3 players to finish with a +, but he was amazing.
Dome hockey team
We're going into the last minute with these 6 (and they're attached to the ice, so they're not coming off)...
- The top two lines were getting a lot of attention from the Capitals defence tonight that I think they somehow forgot about our 4th line. Unlike most of the league's fourth lines ours really packs a punch. Latendresse and Lapierre can be very good and, as we are all now becoming aware of, so can Sergei. He got very involved in the play tonight and didn't seem afraid to initate some plays and take some risks
- Gui has had a hard time of late finding the back of the net, but he snapped out of that tonight in a big way. He scored 2 goals and added an assist. Tonight he used the qualities that he possesses very well, which are his size, reach, puck-control and didn't try too much in his weaker areas - skating and passing. He will play a big role down the stretch and I think a performance like this was just the right thing for him and us
- We have a new points leader in town and he doesn't look like he's slowing down. He added 2 assists tonight to give him 46 points on the year and now sits a top team scoring with Kovy. He has a very impressive 19 points in his last 14 games - a pace that would give him 111 over 82 games. He was a constant threat tonight and was his line's best player
- Mark played a very good game in both ends. Of his pairing he looked the stronger of the two in his own end as Hammer wasn't really on the top of his game. He skated very well and his puck movement was fantastic. Set up the tying goal, looked dangerous at the point all night
- Josh played a great game in his own end. He used all of his size and weight tonight as he wasn't afraid to throw himself around. He wasn't on the ice for any goals against us, although on Ovechkin night that should be no surprise. That said he did have good shifts whenever he was out there against Alex and the other members of the top line. Jumped into the play often which was good, especially in the third
- Huet got beaten by the best tonight, but he got beaten. It was a poor outing for Cris as he should never let in more than 3 (not if he wants into the dome). We are lucky that we got a point out of this as 5 goals against us would usually mean a regulation loss. Halak has been sitting on the bench long enough and I think that he has earned his shot. We aren't talking about just any old back-up here, we are talking about quite possibly our best overall prospect. His numbers in the N/AHL last year as well as with Hamilton again this year would indicate that he is ready for the bigs - look for him to start a game this weekend
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
After having one of his 5 best games as a Hab on Tuesday Kovalev was a little more discrete tonight. He played well, but his Russian counterpart got the best of his this game, tying the season series at 2 (but our 2 losses were in OT). His stickhandling was all there tonight as was his speed, but I didn't see the same dominance along the boards that I have become so accustomed to.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
This wasn't our best game of the season, but I don't think that it's our fault. We didn't start the game as strong as we finished the last one, not even close, but we ended this one quite well. Washington is a team that is on the rise and tonight they, as a team, wanted to win and their play was miles away from what they offered us on Tuesday in Montreal. Ovechkin broke through the Mar-sarek wall tonight and there was no looking back. Players like that are capable of great things and with 4 goals and 5 points he now is alone a top the NHL scoring race.
My only regret tonight is that we didn't get on Kolzig sooner. At the age of 39 Olie is having one of the worst season's of his career and this may very well be his last. He looked shaky all night letting in 4 goals on 21 shots. Had we shot more, especially early on, this could have been another Habs-Bruins affair. I am glad, however, that we didn't let this opportunity go entirely to waste. Coming out of a home-and-home with 3 points against a team as hot as the Caps is quite good. We finsished January with a very impressive record of 8-2-2 which is quite encouraging considering last year's decline during this month. You can't win them all, but when I see efforts like that (to come back from 3 down) on the road to steal a single point I must say that I am very impressed. This team has a lot of fight in it and I am sure we will continue to surprise people right until the end of the season; and beyond.
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