Game 19: Habs hang on to beat Coyotes

Canadiens’ Scott Gomez runs into a fistful of Coyotes’ Adrian Aucoin.
Norm Hall, NHLI vis Getty Images

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POST-GAME AUDIO: Jacques Martin | Tomas Plekanec | Glen Metropolit | Mike Cammalleri | Carey Price 

• At a Glance: Note to Bob Gainey: re-sign Tomas Plekanec now, if not yesterday. The Canadiens snapped out of their offensive lethargy in Phoenix tonight, after a slow start, beating the Coyotes 4-2 on a three-assist night for Plekanec.

But at what cost? Workhorse Montreal defenceman Jaroslav Spacek left the game in the third period with an undefined injury. He’s the fourth Canadiens rearguard to go down in the first quarter of this season, after Andrei Markov, Ryan O’Bryne and Hal Gill.

Another sort-of snakebit night for Montreal goalie Carey Price, the first goal eluding him after he’d been speared in the throat, the second a skate deflection at the edge of his crease.

• Key Moments: The Canadiens had scored all of two regulation-time goals in their past three games, and they hardly poured it on early against the Coyotes. Three shots in the first period? Not going to get ‘er done, boys. But Mike Cammalleri took his team’s goal-scoring lead with his eighth of the season, on the power-play, midway through the second on a marvelous pass from Tomas Plekanec, who had been nicely fed from behind the net by Brian Gionta.

Former Canadien Robert Lang tied the game a few minutes later with his fourth of the season, cashing a scramble after Price had been accidentally harpooned in the throat by the stick of Habs defenceman Paul Mara.

Marc-André Bergeron, with his third, put the Canadiens back on top with a nice snap over Bryzgalov’s shoulder early in the final period with the teams playing 4-on-4, then Plekanec set up Glen Metropolit for his fourth on an absolutely gorgeous pass. It was Plekanec’s third assist of the night, his 200th point coming on his assist of Bergeron.

The ‘Yotes drew to within one on Paul Bissonnette’s first NHL goal, a point shot which pinged off his skate (read: was kicked) past Price. Gionta iced the game with an empty-netter in the final minute, his eighth to pull him even with Cammalleri.

• What It Means: The Canadiens finally won a game against a Western Conference team, their first in six tries.

• What’s Next: The Habs head into Music City for a Saturday night game against the Nashville Predators. Then it’s back home to play Tom Kostopoulos’s Carolina Hurricanes next Tuesday at the Bell Centre.

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