3-1 … and it wasn’t that close.

As home openers go, a total downer.

We don’t get any tropical storms at this latitude.
Good thing.
The Carolina Hurricanes came north and beat Toronto, Ottawa and the Canadiens.

Cristobal Huet stood on his head and stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced, but his heroics went for naught as the Canadiens lost 3-1 and sent a sellout crowd home surly.
It was Carolina’s eighth straight win, regular season and playoffs, at the Bell Centre.

Why the dominance?

“It was our own fault,” said Christopher Higgins, whose first goal of the season was the only one the Canadiens could get past Cam Ward. “We got away from our game.”
Higgins thought the Canadiens tried to be too fancy in their neutral zone play.
“Carolina is a good team,” he said. “They eat those kinds of plays up and go on transition.
“We’re a lot better when we play simple and move the puck forward. We made too many cute plays.”

Patrice Brisebois, who got a warm reception from fickle Canadiens fans, offered a similar analysis.
“Too many fancy plays in the neutral zone,” Brisebois lamented. “That team is so quick. We should have done what they did, forecheck and go after loose pucks.”

Third Period 00:00 Chad Larose’s empty-netter made it 3-1.

Third Period 1:42 Wallin high-sticks Latendresse. No call.

Third Period 2:22 Kostopoulos, Latendresse and Smolinski

Third Period 3:26 I’m getting tired of blogging this: Great work by the first line.

Third Period 4:22 Shots are 37-22. Good scoring chances aren’t that cllose.

Third Period 5:21 Off a Kovy giveaway, Huet stones Scott Walker. L3eft leg extended, stick flying. He’s made 35 saves tonight, none better than that.

Third Period 7:15 I don’t like the line juggling. What’s Kostistyn going to do playing with Smolinski and Kostopoulos? And hhow can Latendresse keep up with Plekanec and Kovalev?

Third Period 8:30 Koivu beats Brind’Amour clean on a faceoff. They don’t even get a shot.

Third Period 8:39 If everyone on this team played as hard as Francis Bouillon …

Third Period 10:16 Another good catch: Tom Kostopoulos. Not exactly Maurice Richard from the blueline in, but GREAT work ethic.

Third Period 11:47 Roman Hamrlik NEVER panics. Real good acquisition.

Third Period 12:29 Shots this period are 6-1, but they’re all right at Ward.

Third Period 12:38 If it weren’t for the first line, there’d be no Canadiens offence tt all. This is troubling and has long-term implications.

Third Period 15:44 The PP is hopeless … and the crowd is not pleased.

Third Period 17:00 Looks like Carbo will go with three lines, two of them reconfigured

Third Period 18:20 Smolinski, Dandenault and Kostitsyn.

Third Period 19:32 Latendresse with Kovy and Pleks? Is this a message to Kostitsyn? Hope it’s not lost in translation.

Third Period 20:00 Can the Canadiens win ONE period tonight?

• • •

Rod Brind’Amour has five shots and is 15-7 on faceoffs.
Through two periods, Kyle Chipchura hasn’t won a faceoff.
The Canadiens have taken seven penalties, and the crowd can boo all they want, the parade to the box is an indication of the difficulty they’re having keeping up with the Hurricanes.
Cam Ward could have brought his iPod and a six-pack.

Second Period 0:33 Carolina’s 30th shot, by Matt Cullen beats Huet.
The Canadiens have 8.

Second Period 02:29 No way to treat a senior. Tom Kostopoulos flattens Glen Wesley. And his penalty gets the game first “Bull—t!” chant.

Second Period 04:00 Kovy put on a PK clinic. He’s smokin’ tonight.

Second Period 04:22 That five-forward Carolina PP is scary. All kinds of puck movement and good shots.

Second Period 5:41 How dull has this period been?
Wild applause for a Mathieu Dandenault forecheck.

Second Period 07:00 The first Breezer giveaway. Huet saves his butt.

Second Period 9:29 The car race.
Does anything suck more than the car race?
Oh yeah, the Wave.
The Wave sucks more than the car race. But it’s quieter

Second Period 10:21 “Has there been a faceoff tonight,” asks Carolina beat guy Luke DeCock, when Tomas Plekanec WASN’T thrown out of the faceoff circle?”
He’s 1 for 4 against Brind’Amour, 0 for 4 againstt the linesman.

Second Period 12:54 Kovy is just dominant on every shift. He and Plekanecs are MUCH more in sync this season.

Second Period 14:04 That’s a slash? By big, bad Christopher Higgins?
I don’t think the Kiss Cam will feature Carbo and the refs.

Second Period 14:20 Another PP … dumb Matt Cullen cross-check in the O-zone.

Second Period 15:31 Cole tries to go wide on Bouillon.

Second Period 18:23 That’s the way to do it. Pressure yields PPs.

Second Period 19:20 Carolina’s defence, hardly the league’s best, keeps steering Canadiens forwards outside.
Gotta go to the net and bang these guys.

Second Period 20:00 Positive sign: Alex Kovalev looks VERY motivated. Great on a late-period PK.

• • •
Chris Higgins scored his first of the season during an early flurry in which his line was all over Carolina.
Play shifted to the other end of the rink thereafter.
The Canadiens took three penalties, the Hurricane pelted Cristobal Huet with 13 shots and Cory Stilllman tapped one in from the crease to tie the game.

Canadiens outhit Carolina 10-5.
Does that stat mean anything?
More significantly, faceoffs were 14-7 for the visitors.

Rod Brind’Amour is 10-4 on faceoffs. Koivu is 4-4, Tomas Plekanec 2-2, Bryan Smolinski 1-2, Kyle Chipchura 0-4.
The kid needs some quality time with Doug Jarvis.

News Flash: Montreal fans love Patrice Brisebois. Huge applause in the pre-game intros. Huger applause for some alert plays during the first period.
The test will come after the first giveaway.

First Period 00:00 Well, 1-1 isn’t bad,, considering the big Carolina edge in shots.
I’m totally bummed here after losing the pre-game ceremony plus the first 12 minutes off my blog.

What happens is I get automatically bumped off the Bell Centre WiFi, and in the process of signing back on the blog somehow reverts to an earlier (MUCH f—ing earlier) version.

I’ll figure out a way around it. In the meantime, apologies to everyonne reading.

First Period 02:15 Another penalty. To Koivu. Carbo is having words (of one syllable?) with ref Kelly Sutherland during the commercial break.

First Period 02:46 Shots are 13-4. Not good.

First Period 04:08 Nothing much Huet could do. That five-forward Carolina PP is a buzzsaw.

First Period 05:23 Huet strong on two Jeff Hamilton blasts. But Smolinskki, great on the PK, sits for hooking.

First Period 5:31 A bit of unpleasantness between Miike Komisarek and Rod Brind’Amour.

First Period 06:20 Erik Cole breaking around number 44.
Oh, it’s a new season.
Roman Hamrlik stays with him.

First Period 08:00 ANOTHER technical glitch at the Bell just wiped out the last hour of blogging.
I’ll try again from here on in.

Pre-game notes, freshly purloined from François Gagnon’s La Presse blog:
Tonight will be the Canadiens 90th home opener in the National Hockey League and the 10th since the team moved from the Forum to the Bell Centre.
The team’s record in home openers is 47 wins, 26 losses and 16 ties (including last year’s opener, which ended 2-2 affter regulation but was won 3-2 by Ottawa in a shootout).
The Canadiens’ home opener winnin percentage of .618 is good for fifth in the NHL, behind Colorado, Ottawa, New Jersey and Tampa Bay.

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