First shootout, first SO loss

Christopher Higgins, the best of the Canadiens tonight, stated the obvious:
“We’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
Through 65 minutes of regulation and overtime play, the Canadiens fired 37 shots at Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
One went in. And it wasn’t enough to win a game that the visitors tied with 11 seconds left in the third period.

Christobal Huet stopped 24 of 25 but was beaten by Jozef Stumpel on Florida’s third shot of the shootout.
And the Canadiens get one point when they deserved two.

“We did a great job in terms of putting in a 60-minute effort,” said Alex Kovalev, who scored the Canadiens only goal but was stopped by Vokoun in the shootout.
“I think of the five games we’ve played, this was our best,” Kovalev added. “We’re playing prettty good. The chances will be there if we keep playing this way.”

And these things even out. Down the road, the Canadiens will be outplayed and steal a W.

The Shootout Higgins (Miss), Koivu (Miss), Kovalev (Miss)
Peltonen (Miss), Horton (Miss), Stumpel (GOAL, backhand)

• • •

Oh yeah.

First shootout of the season?

Slick passing: Breezer to Smolinski to Higggins.
But no goal.

OT Mike Komisarek, this is nnot your night.

Third Period 0:10 Ahh, you just knew it. All that heroism and Horton pops one.

Third Period 2:14 Komisarek giveaway. Komisarek penalty.

Third Period 5:21 Third line gets another shift. Carbo is brave.

Third Period 6:29 Too many icings. Playing with fire here.

Third Period 6:54 Great backcheck, Michael Ryder.

Third Period 07:35 Ouf! A mad scramble in the goal mouth, but the puck stays out.

Third Period 10:00 I’m surprised Grabovski is on in a one-goal game.

Third Period 11:13 Shots are 30-14. This one should be over.
It’s not.

Third Period 13:24 Kostitsyn looking more at ease on the PP.

Third Period 14:10 Andrei Markov blocks a shot! Woo-hoo!

Third Period 15:19 Florida is coming on a bit here. Canadiens could really use a second goal.

Third Period 18:16 That’s a new one. Grabovski misses a hurry-up faceoff.

Third Period 19:00 Manny passes to phantoms in the slot.

Third Period 20:00 This is agonizing. One flukey crap goal and this sucker is tied up.

• • •

It’s early in the season, but Canadiens’ defence corps is a MAJOR upgrade on last year’s group.
The new number 44 is not a human turnstile.
Mike Komisarek is more experienced.
Francis Bouillon is healthy.
Patrice Brisebois is reborn.
Mark Streit is playing hhis favoured position.
And Andrei Markov is Andrei Markov.

Dump-ins and aggressive forechecking, which destroyed the Canadiens last season, is being handled with aplomb.
No one (least of all Roman Hamrlik) panics.
The forwards get back to help.
Result: Zone clearances are quick and efficient.

Andrei KKostitsyn has four shots.
Mark Streit, uncharacteristically, has three giveaways.
Kyle Chipchura, who didn’t win a faceoff against Carolina, is 4-3 tonight.

Second Period 0:36 13 shots, but Huet has had to be alert.

Second Period 3:07 First square-off of the season. And Tom Kostopoulos manages to fling Noah Welch down and land one.

Second Period 3:35 Bryan Smolinski makes very smart plays. An excellent pick-up, Bob.

Second Period 8:28 24 shots … one goal. This should be 4-0.

Second Period 10:00 Shots are 21-9 … but just the one steenking goal.

Second Period 10:21 Grabovski just passed to himself. Man, the little guy is exciting.

Second Period 11:40 Off a Brisebois giveaway, Huet stones Nathan Horton on the backhand. Wow!

Second Period 13:09 Commercial break. Are the Canadiens tis good, or is Florida awful?

Second Period 13:49 Good old Zee. Two for slashing .. on the PP.

Second Period 14:29 I don’t get that call. Dandenault for hooking? Invisible to the naked eye.

Second Period 16:26 Finally, a Canadiens penalty. Richard Zednik on the PP for Florida

Second Period 18:06 Ineffectual PP, as they offtenn are at the beginning of a period.

• • •
Alex Kovalev taps in a Roman Hamrlik rebound to give Canadiens an early lead in a game they are totally dominating.

Contrary to the direst predictions (mine), the Canadiens have reacted to the benching of Steve Bégin and Guillaume Latendresse by playing perhaps their best 20 minutes of the season.

And this is why Guy Carbonneau is behind the bench and I’m in the pressbox.
Shots are 15-4, Canadiens
Faceoffs are 16-10 (Koivu and Plekanec are 12-4).

This is a Jacques Martin team?
The Florida writers say Bryan Allen (-7 this season) is playing the worst defence they’ve seen all season.

I like Smolinski on the second line.
And I REALLY like Roman Hamrlik and the Breezer.

First Period 00:00 Shots were 15-4. Score is only 1-0, because Vokoun has been hot.

First Period 0:44 What a flurry. Florida, particularly Bryan Allen, looks worse than Toronto’s.

First Period 3:38 Shots are 9-2. Panthers playing like morning skate was at Chez Paree.

First Period 4:35 Grabovski is playing like he wants to stay in the lineup.

First Period 4:56 I like Chipchura tonight.

First Period 7:22 Shots are 6-2. Less than spellbinding action here.
(Like I paid to get in.)

First Period 8:39 Slick pass from Kostitsyn to GGrabovski. Offside, but beautiful to watch.

First Period 10:32 No Canadiens penalties. That’s an improvement. And another PP.

First Period 12:17 The crowd loved that. Grabovski skated down a cleariing pass off the boards, broke in, pulled a spinerama and got off a backhand

First Period 12:51 Two icings for the first line.

First Period 13:24 First commercial break. Canadiens are playing with great jump, all four lines … but especially Koivu’s. He beat Jokinen on the game-opening faceoff and hasn’t slowed down.

First Period 14:07 Shots are 5-1 for the home side. A very good start.

First Period 14:55 GREAT set-up by Ryder, but the Captain mmisfires.

First Period 16:08 Garth Murray stumbles in the neutral zone and the grumbling begins.

First Period 17:07 \ Big rebound off a Roman Hamrlik shot, and Kovy is right there.

First Period 18:47 Kovalev hustles Mike Van Ryn nto a holding penalty. Smolinski on first wave of the PP

First Period 19:30 Quick change: Ryyder off for Kovalev.

• • •

Special guests: Patrick Carpentier and Guy Lafleur.

• • •

Canadiens taking their time coming out of the room. And no pre-game player videos.

• • •

Florida D: Jay Bouwmeester, 6-4, 212; Noah Welch, 6-4, 218; Bryan Allen, 6-4 220.
Any volunteers for going to the net tonight, guys?

• • •
With Steve Bégin in the pressbox, how will your Montreal Canadiens fare against Florida tonight?

And how will your intrepid EEEEE-mailer fare?
I’ve been up since 6 and I have to watch a team coached by Jacques Martin.
Coffee, anyone?

And with two francophone players out of the lineup, Bert Raymond AND Réjean Tremblay have deigned to attend the game.
Humiliation, anyone?
In their last six games against Florida, the Canadiens have scored five goals.
Garth Murray will fix that.

• • •

Cristobal Huet is 2-2 against Florida, with a GAA of 1.14 and a save percentage of .961.

• • •

Christopher Higgins has two assists but no goals in six games lifetime against Florida.

• • •

Mr. October … NOT!
Guillaume Latendresse has yet to score a point in the first month of a hockey season. In 15 October games, Guy! Guy! Guy! is -8.

• • •

Olli Jokinen, one of my favourite non-Canadien NHL players, has never been in the playoffs through 646 games in the NHL.
The record is is 734, set by Guy Charron.
More surprisingly, Jokinen – who plays a take-no-prisoners physical game – has an iron-man streak of 298 games, dating back to Dec. 23, 2002.
Fearless prediction: Jokinen will pick up at least a point tonight to move ahead of Scott Mellanby and become the Panthers all-time leading scorer.

• • •

Tomas Vokoun has never beaten the team that drafted him in the ninth round in 1994.

• • •

In today’s La Presse, Matthias Brunet has a nice piece on Ryan McDonagh.
The authoritative Inside College Hockey has tabbed the Canadiens’ first-round draft choice as the most promiosing first-year defenceman in the U.S.
Brunet quotes Kevin Patrick, assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, raving about McDonagh. In addition to praising his on-ice talent, Patrick lauds the kid’s maturity, willingness to learn and ease in expressing himself.
Sounds like Trevor Timmins found another first-round gem.

• • •

Here’s Toronto Star hockey writer Damien Cox on poor Bryan McCabe.

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