Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Game #61

Habs Mount Biggest Comeback in Team History

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday February 19th, 2008
Opponent: New York Rangers
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 6-5 (SO) - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price, Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Henrik Lunqvist (L)

Habs goalscorers: Michael Ryder (2), Alexei Kovalev (2), Mark Streit (Saku Koivu - SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Brandon Dubinsky, Sean Avery, Brendan Shanahan (2), Chris Drury

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 Comeback from 0-5 down for a win in 99 years of Habs history
1st Win against the Rangers this season (4 GP)
1st Time that Price has not lasted 40 minutes in his career (13:41)

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

Goal after goal how can I choose! All our goals were great and all of them made the crowd 10 times louder. The best of the bunch was the tying goal by Kovalev, scored in quite a dramatic fashion.

Koivu, on the power-play, broke into the zone down the left hand side and dished the puck to the corner to Andrei Kostitsyn. Andrei then made a quick pass into the slot to a streaking Kovalev. Kovy reached for the puck and took a one-timer as he was falling. When the puck went in over Henrik's arm Alex was upside down on the ice in a ball and the score was 5-5.

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

Michael Ryder

Michael gave the Habs life when we needed it the most. Most people had probably written the Habs off by the time it was 0-5, but Ryder of all people kept chipping away. He scored 2 goals in the second period to give us life. The best thing of all was that his 2 goals got the crowd into it and they were as lively as I had ever seen them from there on in. The momentum created by Ryder with his two goals carried into the third where he added an assist on Streit's goal.

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)...


Michael Ryder
- Ryder played with heart all game and he was rewarded with some luck tonight as he bagged himself 3 points. Ryder now has 11 goals, but more importantly 8 in his last 19 games - a pace that would give him 34 on the year. Ryder has been good over the past 2 months and is far cry from the player he was before Christmas. He is a player I want on our team as you never know when that goal-scoring ability will surface

Mark Streit
- 3 more points for Streit tonight - 42 on the year. Streit formed a lethal combo with Lapierre and Ryder and has done so over the past 2 games. He was also very valuable on the PP and in OT as, you guessed it, a defenceman

Alexei Kovalev
- Alex had a fantastic game and scored 2 of his biggest goals of the season - his 28th and 29th. He has now reached point per game status with 61 on the year. It was interesting to see him outplay Jagr tonight as he often won the one-on-one battles vs. his 2-time teammate


Andrei Markov
- He played extremely well from the second period onwards. He was our most dangerous player in OT and almost ended it himself. His classic 'left point to right corner Kovalev pass' paid off yet again; their chemistry is incredible and is a huge reason for our success

Roman Hamrlik
- He was our best defensive defenceman tonight and was only on the ice for one of the Rangers' 5 goals. He ended with a +2 rating and played over 25 minutes of hockey. He played a very smart and responsible game as his apprenticeship of O'Byrne continues (Ryan was +3)


Cristobal Huet
- When Huet came into the game with 6 minutes left in the first the game was 0-3 and it looked out of reach. That, however, didn't stop Cristo from playing as hard as he could and doing everything for the win. He did, however, let in 2 PP goals, but neither were his fault. He was outstanding in the third period, overtime and in the shootout and was a big reason that the comeback ended in a win and not a tight loss. Price didn't have a good game, but that happens to everyone and that is all it was, a bad game. This, however, is a perfect example of why we shouldn't get too excited when someone wins 3 in a row. We have 2 great goalies and we should continue to play both of these great players on a regular basis

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

There are 2 other comeback moments like tonight that stand out in my mind when I think of Kovalev. When he was first with the Habs he had a fantastic series against Boston and, along with Koivu and Zednik, was a big reason we overcame that 1-3 deficit. The second time was in December of 2005 against Ottawa when he was instrumental in a come from behind win against the Sens. Tonight was his third memorable comeback moment with the Habs; his 2 goals showed that he is capable of being a big-game player and a big-game breaker.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent

Overall Comments

Going into this game I was giving the game a 'nice-to-win' status. I realize that we are not going to be able to win every game and that considering we were coming off of a 3 game winning streak I could have stomached a loss. After we went down 0-5 I felt that this would be a good opportunity to lose big and to learn the lessons that come along with that. After we scored our first goal, with plenty of time left, I started to think that if we were within 3 goals by the end of the second then we may yet have a chance. What the Habs and the folks at the Bell Centre did in the third period was actually quite unprecedented. It was in the the third that Ryder, Kovalev and what was left of the 21,273 people at the game took the game by its throat and decided that the game had now been upgraded to 'must-win' status. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and had the feel of a playoff game. You can't ask for a better crowd in the whole league to play in front of, and it now seems like we can't ask for a better team in the whole league to play in front of us. The crowd got us back into the game and the warriors, all 20 of them, got us the huge win.

We now have 75 points after 61 games and we avoided falling out of first place with this win. Ottawa also won in a shootout so we will remain in a tie for now. Topham called for 96 points to make the playoffs this year and that of course is still the ultimate goal. Now, for the first time all year, we only need to get 1 point in each of our last 21 games to make 96 points a reality. With the way things are going now it seems more and more likely that we may be able to hit the 96-point mark and I wouldn't be at all shocked if we made it to 100. We have a fantastic bunch and we are getting contributions from absolutely everyone - Gainey has to be careful now not to do anything too rash. The team has great chemistry, leadership and skill so any major changes should be avoided. That being said I am sure that Bob knows exactly what we need. Also, I am sure that if we go out and get anyone in the next week we will be the team that comes out on top of any deal.

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