<p>The Vatican has its way of doing things.</p><p>In Montrteal, the canonization of Brother Andrei came by fan vote.</p><p>AK46 – the Belarusian Bafflement, the riddle wrappewd in a mystery inside an enigma under a bad haircut – continues his torrid early season with a goal,&nbsp;an assist and a First Star selection.</p><p>With agent Don Meehan in the house, Kostitsyn offered compelling evidence that he understands at least two English words:</p><p>Contract year.</p><p>Jacques Martin alluded to AK46’s pecuniary motivation during his postgame remarks. But he also praised Kostitsyn’s rare skill set.</p><p>”He’s strong,” the coach said. “He goes to the net and he has an intimidating shot. </p><p>”Andrei is learning,” Martin added, “and his puck management is improving.”</p><p>Martin was not satisfied with Kostitsyn’s conditioning level a year ago. He pointed out that the talented winger took a while to get untracked during the 2009-’10 season but excelled in Games 20 to 40 before being injured and turning into a non-factor.</p><p>Well, he’s back. And while AK46’s inconsistency will have second-guessers analyzing the 2003 draft from now until 3003, Kostitsyn is showing flashes of why he was seklected ahead of Mike Richards, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf and …</p><p>Let’s not go there.</p><p>Instead, let’s celebrate the Canadiens taking five of a possible six points while playing three games in four nights.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

<p>And playing the second half of a back-to-back against divisional opponents, the Canadiens held the Senators to 19 shots on goal – eight over the game’s last 40 minutes, and only two in the third period.</p><p>The Senators were stifled by a D corps that included old geezers Roman Hamrlik and Jaro Spacek, playing heavy minutes for the second night in a row. There were moments when Spacek caused some anxiety – particularly his SoG against Carey Price – but Hamrlik has been predictably steady.</p><p>And as Martin pointed out, the Spatch-Hammer pairing is letting P.K. Subban hone his defensive game in a third pairing, where the exuberant rookie is not matched against opponents’ top two lines.</p><p>Some bullet points:</p><p>• Plekanec pointed out that AK46’s aggressive play is opening the ice for Mike Cammalleri. The latter had eight shots on goal, and the line had 15 total – only four fewer than 18 Ottawa skaters.</p><p>• Price, who faced 48 shots against Tampa Bay, had 42 against Buffalo and Ottawa</p><p>• Alex Kovalev, booed lustily by the Bell Centre crowd, looked slow and lost the puck at the Canadiens net to start a sequence that led to Kostitsyn’s winning goal.</p><p>• Lars Eller was minus-2 in a bit over four minutes of play and was benched during tghe second pertiod, never to return. Martin described Eller as a “young player of great skill” who’s going through a learning process. Martin said Eller played well in Buffalo, not-so-well against the Senators.</p><p>”In this league, we’re in the business of winning hockey games,” Martin added, explaining why he shortened his bench.</p><p>• The power play continues to sputter: one goal in 17 opportunities, 0-for-5 against the Senators. But Martin, in glass half-full mode, said the Canadiens are scoring goals at even strength – a notable improvement for a team that was one of the league’s worst at 5-on-5 last season.</p><p>The Canadiens have played five games, each of which has been decided by a one-goal margin. Mathieu Darche said “you don’t make the playoffs in October”, but the veteran also pointed out that points are precious no matter when you get them.</p><p>In a playoff race that will go down to the wire, October points – bagged in tight games – will be crucial.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

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