About last night …

It was the kind of game that fosters self-belief and builds character.
Playing on the road for the second time in two nights, the Canadiens built a 3-0 lead, blew it and salvaged two points in a shootout.
From midway through the second period, when Alex Kovalev’s penalty caused a momentum shift, the Penguins controlled the game. But the Canadiens – undoubtedly fatigued, especially in the third period and OT – didn’t break.
So until the playoffs – inshallah – your team is undefeated in Carolina and Pittsburgh this season.
Not too shabby.

Andrei Markov made the most of his first career shootout opportunity.
Rapidly rounding into the form that made him the Canadiens’ best defenceman – and, for my money, the team’s best player – last season, Markov has four goals this season, including two game-winners.

• • •

As Pat Hickey points out in his game story, size matters.
Faced with the imposing sight of Carey Price, five of eight Penguins shot wide in the shootout. Sergei Gonchar didn’t even get a shot off.
Price – who said he’d like second chances on the first and third Pittsburgh goals – could become the Canadiens Jonathan Papelbon: bring him in for shootouts when Cristobal Huet starts.
I wonder if he can dance.

• • •

I thought Josh Gorges was very solid after a shaky start.
His problem is the Canadiens are deep in quality defencemen this season. Markov, Roman Hamerlik and Mike Komisarek are playing great, as are Mark Streit and Francis Bouillon. Patrice Brisebois has played well, benefiting from being paired with Hamerlik.
Unless there’s an injury, I don’t see the man from Kelowna getting many starts.

• • •

Andrei Kostitsyn is a horse of a different colour – and I use the metaphor advisedly.
The former first-round draft choice brings a physical dimension that Mikhail Grabovski lacks.
I thought Kostitsyn played a solid game last night: 10 minutes, a team-low 14 shifts (Guy Carbonneau spelled him when things got tight), picked up an assist on Mathieu Dandenault’s goal.
If I’m Carbo I give the kid another start against Atlanta on Tuesday..

• • •

Christopher Higgins and Michael Ryder have to start scoring.
Their inability to finish is costing Saku Koivu three assists in every game.

• • •

Francis Bouillon is the only defenceman without a point this season.
Which means … NOTHING!
Frankie the Bull has been outstanding. I thought he was particularly stalwart when Pittsburgh started to lay on the hits last night.

• • •

First bad game of the season for Alex Kovalev.
His penalty opened the door for the Penguins’ comeback. Kovy didn’t have a shot on goal and ended the game minus-one.
I’m betting he’ll bounce back against Atlanta. It’s hard to sink into a funk when Tomas Plekanec is your centre.
Pleks was held off the scoresheet but he had four shots and was 11-5 on faceoffs last night.


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