Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Game #58

Kovalev Strikes in OT as Price Finally Wins Again

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Wednesday February 13th, 2008
Opponent: Florida Panthers
Venue: BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, FL

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-1 (OT) - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Tomas Vokoun (L)

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Steve Montador

2007/08 first
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 2-Assist Game for Koivu in 2008
1st Win for Price in 2008

Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...

Koivu drew a penalty in overtime that gave us a serious chance at winning. Our Power-Play was 0 for 5 in regulation so I guess it is safe to say we were due for a goal. Carbo had a good plan sending out Saku with Kovy, Smolinski and Markov for the 4-on-3 man-advantage and it worked. After Smoke shot one wide Kovy picked up the rebound in his usual spot - the right half boards. He then skated in, made the defenceman retreat, and shot a very precise shot right through the D's legs and right into the bottom left corner of the net.

Game puck
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...

Saku Koivu

Sak played an excellent game in both ends. He finished with 2 assists, +1, 5 shots and played over 20 minutes of hockey. His linemates played well alongside him and it made their line the Habs' best tonight. The captain now has 41 points and his play play as of late would suggest he is heating up at the right time.

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)...


Saku Koivu
- We needed a win and there he was again to give us that chance. He has been our best player over the past few days and I think Carbo is taking notice. He was called on a lot more tonight and was chosen over Plekanec to man the PP with Kovy in OT - a choice that paid its dividends. Had a small night in the face-off circle, but one of his losses ended up with a Higgins goal showing just how irrelevant that stat can sometimes be

Christopher Higgins
- Higgins scored the goal that we needed to tie the game up with a great nose for the net - he had 7 total shots. His play as of late has been quite good and despite being ripped into by the media is still having a very good season. Tonight he scored his 18th and will surely hit the 25 plateau this year which is never a bad feat, no matter how hot you start

Alexei Kovalev
- Kovy had a quiet game, but he got the job done when we needed him the most. He was given the puck in OT and was told if he could hit a puck-sized hole that we would get 2 points - the end result was a huge win. Until OT his defensive play was more noticeable than his offensive play


Andrei Markov
- Marky was our best offensive defenceman all night long and to no big surprise was also our best defensive one too. He made a lot of great plays in our own end and was a big reason that Florida only scored once. He played nearly half an hour which is half an hour less than I want him playing

Mike Komisarek
- Mike was back with Markov for the whole game and it worked. They did a good job of shutting down Jokinen and co. When Komi plays a simple defensive game that is based on smart and responsible play it allows Markov to go up and get involved and take his 6 shots. That combination of power and skill has been getting it done for us all year


Carey Price
- This was Carey's best game in 2 months and he deserved the win. The one goal can't really be blamed on him as it deflected off Markov's hand. He was solid all night long and it was his positioning and concentration to technique that won us this game. He is a valuable asset to have and should help the Habs a lot down the stretch when Huet needs a rest

Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...

He really saved the best for last tonight with a spectacular shot in OT. Throughout our little losing streak his line has been held down by the opposition as they are learning more and more how Kovalev's line plays. Like last night Kovalev's best moment came when he was on with Saku. When you need a win and leadership is needed it is good to know you have Kovy to turn to as he can clearly handle the pressure.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good

Overall Comments

This was a game that we had to win. Coming into tonight I knew that we needed these two points and that leaving with anything less would be bad news. After the first part of the game I realized that Price's goaltending was going to be good enough for a 2-3 goal output from us and that this was a situation that we should take advantage of. It took a lucky bounce on Higgins' goal for us to get back into the game, but sometimes that is all you need. Florida did indeed have moments where they looked dangerous, but so did we. Overtime was an appropriate result at which point it was anyone's game. Our contanst fore-cheking earned us a lot of PPs including one in OT. The team played much more like a unit tonight as they passed, skated and hustled like a team.

We have 2 more games this week and we really should aim for 2-3 points. I still believe that we can finish as high as 1st, but also think that as low as 11th isn't out of the realm of possibility. Losing successive games should be avoided (especally in regulation) from here on in if we want a shot at a top 4 seed. Our home-and-home with Philly this weekend should be a fun affair and it will be a good opportunity to see if we have what it takes to beat a good team 2 games in a row. It looks like Hamrlik will be back in on Saturday which is great news. Not only do we get one of our best D-men back it will also mean that the Habs all time worst player will sit in the press-box. We will be twice as good of a team come the weekend because of this change, you can mark my words.

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