Game 39: Rangers claw back to win in OT

Captain Alex Kovalev, wearing the C in the flu-bug absence of Saku Koivu, is ridden along the boards by Rangers’ Paul Mara.
Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

Lineups | Preview | Game Story | Game Summary | Event Summary | Boxscore | Boone’s Blog

The record book won’t show that the Canadiens played shorthanded for 60 minutes tonight, but in a very real sense that was the case in the Habs’ 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

Brendan Shanahan, who irked Canadiens fans last season by choosing to sign with New York instead of Montreal as an unrestricted free agent, took advantage of a Roman Hamrlik giveaway to beat Habs goalie Cristobal Huet with a high, glove-hand breakaway shot at 1:06 of overtime to give the Rangers a come-from-behind win.

The 19-man Canadiens – using 17 skaters, 11 up front – wrapped up their six-game road trip, the longest they’ll have this season, with a mark of 3-1-2 and eight points of a possible 12. And given how the club has fared in recent holiday-season sojourns away from the Bell Centre, you’d better believe they’ll happily take it.

With captain Saku Koivu ailing with the flu, the Canadiens earlier in the day called up forward Corey Locke from the Hamilton Bulldogs. Locke arrived at Madison Square Garden with minutes to spare, eager to make his long-anticipated NHL debut. But he too was scratched when his equipment didn’t arrive, forcing coach Guy Carbonneau to dress just 19 players.

It was a eight-point night for the line of Tomas Plekanec (one goal, two assists) between Andrei Kostitsyn (two goals, one assist) and acting captain Alex Kovalev (two assists).

Shots on goal were 21-21, though the Rangers had just one on Huet in the second period.

Twice the Canadiens fought from behind then finally seized the lead late in the second, before New York’s Chris Drury tied the game 3-3 at 14:09 of the third from a scramble in front of Huet.

The Rangers, stoked by their 6-1 rout of the Maple Leafs in Toronto one night earlier, were first on the board in a highly entertaining first period, Dan Girardi threading one past Huet on a long, harmless-looking wrist shot from just inside the blue line at 10:14.

Canadiens’ Andrei Kostitsyn scored the equalizer at 18:03 on the power play, his eighth of the season, when he took a pass in the deep slot from centreman Plekanec and wound up from roughly last week to fire a bullet wrist shot high to the glove side of New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

But just 17 seconds later, Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr put the home team back in front, taking a pass from the boards from Scott Gomez to whip one past a surprised Huet.

A less compelling second period picked up great steam in its last six minutes. The Canadiens earned the tying goal, Andrei Kostitsyn again drawing the Habs even, again on the power play, and again on a set-up by Plekanec, though this one came right on Lundqvist’s doorstep, banged in from just a few feet at 14:31.

Then, on a delayed Rangers penalty, defenceman Francis Bouillon did some excellent spadework to begin a huge play, feeding Sergei Kostitsyn, who deftly backhanded the puck to his brother, Andrei, who got it in turn to Plekanec for the latter’s goal at 17:07 – his 12th this season, to go with 20 assists.

Drury’s late goal finally sent the match into overtime.

The Canadiens returned home following the game to enjoy a short New Year’s break, and will open a three-game homestand on Thursday vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Alexander Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals provide the opposition on Saturday, and the no-longer-moribund Chicago Blackhawks wrap it up a week from Tuesday, when the Habs will pay a pre-centennial tribute to another of their Original Six rivals.

 

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist lunges for the puck, but fails to snare the second-period goal of Canadiens’ Tomas Plekanec.
Ray Stubblebine, Reuters

255 Comments

  1. mrstewart61 says:

    Handzus: 40gp 5g 5a 10p -15 – No thanks!

  2. mrstewart61 says:

    But they are still spelling his brothere’s wrong.

  3. The Teacher says:

    Ok! I don’t know what he was looking at on the first goal. Maybe a hot blond in the stands? You got me.

    Criticism when warranted is fine. Some of these guys just blather to blather.

  4. Bill H says:

    Life is sweet coming off 2 wins in Florida. We are 3rd in points in the east. This far exceeds most preseason predictions. Congratulations to the team. Its great to see some 5-on-5 scoring, especially with 3 lines producing. Amazing that a coach can go from idiot to genius in 2 games for the same reason – shuffling lines to find the right combinations. Huet is hot, and that makes a lot of things possible. We’ve seen some great playmaking and a newfound ability to finish the play. Gorges to Ryder to Higgins to Ryder – does it get any prettier than that? The Latendresse goal was a beaut as well. Has he found his niche on the team with linemates Koivu and K2? I wish Saku would slump more often with a mere 8 points in his last 7 games while fighting off the flu. Kovalev is playing better than he has in years and has turned into a team leader in more than just goals/points. There a lot of things that are very positive about the Canadiens right now.

    However, consider the following.

    1.) Parity in conference: 2 consecutive losses would leave us with 44 points in 40 games. The standings could look something like this.

    GP Pts
    Ottawa 40 54
    New Jersey 40 45
    Carolina 42 45
    Pittsburgh 40 46
    NYR 40 46
    Phil 38 44
    Buffalo 39 44
    NYI 39 44
    Boston 40 44
    Montreal 40 44
    Florida 40 43

    We could be tied for 6th place with other teams holding games in hand, and one loss out of 11th spot.

    2.) We have a young team that is notorious for being inconsistent, blasting out the competition one night and hardly showing up at all the next night. There is reason for optimism, with some newcomers called up from Hamilton and the possibility that we might have some line combinations that will work well and stay together to develop some chemistry and consistency.

    3.) Our 2 game winning streak was accomplished against very weak opponents. Tampa Bay is in the middle of a bad slump and Florida had some disastrous goaltending for a change.

    4.) The Canadiens have managed 0 wins when they are behind either after the first period or the second period. That’s great when we can blow them out of the rink in 5 minutes, but a team that cannot get back in a game after being behind by a goal or two is going to have a tough go of it. We need to develop some character and confidence, not give up after 20 minutes.

    5.) We have at least 7 out of a possible 10 points on the current road trip, and with any luck we will take 2 more tonight. But then we go home again where we have a losing record. This team has not learned how to win at home. We need to figure that out before we can take it to the next level and have a nice, deep run in the playoffs.

    Just a few things to consider. It’s a long season, and we have some time to work out some of the kinks in the system. What’s almost as frustrating as the team’s inconsistency is how the posters on sites like this swing so far and so fast from supporters to those who would fire management and trade away the core of the team’s future to bring a goal scorer to Montreal. I have confidence in Carbo, Jarvis, Muller and Gainey, even if I don’t agree with their every decision. Let’s hope things continue to improve as we work out some of the bugs and gain some valuable experience. Go Habs.

  5. habs-13 says:

    MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens announced Sunday that forward Corey Locke has been recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. Locke will join the team in New York today and should be available for tonight’s game against the Rangers.

    Locke, 23, leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 23 points in 30 games (8 goals, 15 assists). He posted a +4 and registered 20 penalty minutes.

    What the hell are we going to do with Locke in our lineup? Where does he fit in? I understand that he brings speed to our lineup which as mentioned by Timo is what is needed to play aginst the Blueshirts, but he is another small skilled forward. I don’t mind having smaller guys on the to 2 lines, but there is no room for Locke on our top 2 lines, which leaves him on the 3rd or 4th line. Those are supposed to prevent goals and that is no what Locke does.

  6. JF says:

    Habs have to come out hard tonight and get off to a good start, hopefully score the first goal. If they come out flat or get down a goal, we’ll see what usually happens: their confidence will ooze out, their passes will stop clicking, their defensive zone coverage will become laborious, and it will likely end up being a repeat of the Dallas or Detroit games. The Rangers looked very good last night – big, strong and confident. But their defense is not the fastest, and hopefully they’ll be tired.

  7. The Teacher says:

    Hall of Famer, Hallf of Famer..need i put it in Braille?

  8. The Cat says:

    I agree Timo, Huet has to steal this game tonight. Rangers are clicking on all cylinders now that Avery is back.

  9. The Cat says:

    Im no expert on how to run a team in this salary cap era, but unless Montreal can get a big centre ice man for Huet, then they should sign Huet. If we cant improve on the only area we need help in, we may as well keep what we got.

  10. POPS says:

    Simple recipe : STRIKE FIRST! STRIKE HARD! STRIKE FORCE!

  11. mar-lin says:

    Bill H,

    -15 but plays stellar defense? I KNOW I KNOW +/- doesn’t tell the whole story…-32!? yikes…i want him. just kidding, he’s not the right fit for us.

    cheers

    go habs go

  12. mar-lin says:

    A big centre LIKE Handzus just not him, unless of course he’s packaged with Dustin Brown. Now we’re talkin!! If a centre is still what we need when the trade deadline approaches. Then let’s really see what’s out there make sure we explore all possibilities. I just get that same feeling about him like i did with Samsonov…and he costs more! Speaking of cost…Frolov 3mil. and Blake a stunning 6mil. ummmm no thanks. Don’t get me wrong POPS i like what you’re saying just change Handzus’s name with another centre who might have a bigger impact. We need a superstar not a semi-star just my opinion. Don’t even get me started on the stats of these players you speak of.

    I can agree with you on the GM thing though…makes sense, comfort=trust.

    cheers

    go habs go

  13. Bill H says:

    I agree mar-lin. His size is impressive, but where we are most lacking size is on the first 2 lines. With 5 goals to his credit this year, I don’t think he is a candidate for a top 6 forward.

    Scouting Report
    Assets: Is a load to line up against, at 6-5, 217 pounds. Plays stellar defense and is also a capable playmaker. Has improved his confidence in the offensive zone.
    Flaws Lacks speed. Needs to be more aggressive in the corners. May never reach his full potential on offense.
    Career potential Two-way center.
    Year to date: 2007-08 GP39 G5 A5 P10 =/- -15
    On Pace: G11 A11 P22 =/- -32

  14. POPS says:

    I like the idea of bringing in a big centre and Handzus fits the bill when you consider he is very strong defensively but, if I am trading a proven #1 goaltender like Huet I would want more than Handzus. I think the Habs will wait to make a deal for Huet and ditto for Ryder. LA makes sense as a trading partner because Gainey and Lombardi have worked together in the past. I also believe that Gainey has dealt with Sather (NYR), and Wilson (SJ). GM’s tend to deal amongst each other when they form relationships. If I were the Habs I would look to LA for a package that might include Frolov and Blake. I think above all else on this team we need some winners. Great examples around the league include Fedorov, Foote, Blake, Shanahan, Modano, Lehitinen, Lapointe and Schneider. These types of players bring alot of leadership, character, experience, and respect into the dressing room. This is what we need.

  15. JF says:

    Great post. People are understandably optimistic after the wins in Florida, but it’s good to underline the problems, in particular the team’s inconsistency and our inability to come back when we’re down a goal. I think consistency will come with increased confidence and success. Coming back is also partly a matter of confidence. We have to believe we can win even when we’re down, which is not the case right now. Too often the team gives up. We have to develop a winning attitude, which will also help us when it comes to protecting a one-goal lead or scoring an insurance goal when we’re up by one late in the game. We often settle for an overtime loss, when with a little more grit and character, it could be a regulation win. We are a young team and chemistry is only lately developing on some of the lines, so hopefully these problems can be ironed out fairly quickly.

    I also have confidence in the coaching staff. I think Carbonneau is developing into a very good coach. Even if the Habs don’t make the playoffs, I would hate to see the organization give up on him and start all over with someone else.

  16. Exit716 says:

    Shanahan is a Hall of Fame Phoney.
    I know who wears the pants in his family and it ain’t Brenda(n).

  17. Chuck says:

    Ok then, maybe we should talk about the Rangers’ first goal: a long soft wrist shot that Huet didn’t exactly look his sharpest on. Could be THAT was the difference in the game. If he saves that one, then who knows?

    Also, point well taken on the faceoffs. We have to be better on those.
    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________________
    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  18. NEWFOUNDLAND DOG says:

    Why shouldn’t an Allstar goalie stop an Allstar player? Should I write it crayon for you.

  19. The Teacher says:

    ok..I read it twice and didn’t get the point you are trying to make…please do make it?

    Hall of Famer vs non-Hall of Famer..I’ll put it that way for you? who should win there?

  20. POPS says:

    Love Plekanec but he always has trouble finishing a play. He had 2 or 3 opportunitites tonight on 3 on 2’s or 2 on 1’s and couldn’t make the right pass or shot. Don’t get me wrong I am not bashing him but I think he could use some more touch. Great worker.

  21. jimbo says:

    At the deadline LA will be so far out of the picture they won’t need or want Huet

  22. NEWFOUNDLAND DOG says:

    So he has 600 goals.

    According to some people in here Huet is the #1 goalie. Huet is an Allstar.

    If he is an allstar maybe he should have ?????? Well you know…….

  23. Bill H says:

    Crap! 4-3 Rangers. We only get one point tonight. Fire the lot of them! They are all incompetent. 😉

    Kovalev 3 pts
    Pleks 3 pts
    A. Kostitsyn 3 pts
    What a line tonight.

    Well, 8 out of a possible 12 points on this road trip. Not too bad. Now back home. Let’s see if we can improve our home ice record now.

  24. The Teacher says:

    Here comes Timo…………………….

    Perfect Shot on a breakaway from a guy with 600+ NHL goals. Nuff said.

  25. The Teacher says:

    Huet had no chance on that one. We can win a faceoff to save our lives.

  26. paul b says:

    carb.will raise the banner (: (soon) WAY TO GO (Bill)what do they think they cant make mistakes..

  27. NEWFOUNDLAND DOG says:

    I’m sorry Bill. You are right.

    Please forgive me.

  28. Mr.Hazard says:

    PLEKANEC IS ON FIREEE

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  29. Mr.Hazard says:

    They finally fixed the Kostitsyn typo on NHL.com! (formerly Kastitsyn)

    Ex nihilo nihil fit

  30. The Teacher says:

    That’s what I say. They couldn’t even hang on for a period.

  31. The Teacher says:

    Oh I have no doubt you have to run now 😛

    WHAT A SAVE BY HUEEEETTTTTTTT

  32. Bill H says:

    Unbelievable! We can’t even go 2 periods before the negative comments are flying around.

    Newfoundland Dog: Carbo keeps playing Kovalev on the power play because he is our best power play scorer. He has 9 power play goals this season. That’s 3 better than our next best power play scorer, Chris Higgins. Kovalev is a skilled puckhandler and passer. He takes chances that often pay off with a goal. And of course sometimes he coughs up the puck and we lose possession. So if he is so terrible, who would you put out there in his place? Before you respond, maybe you should check your stats.

    Timo: My god, you are right. What is Carbo thinking, putting the goalie with the best save percentage in the league in 3 consecutive games? He must be out of his mind.

    Newf Dog and Timo: Carbo has the team in 3rd place in the east on points. He has this team exceeding expectations by far. And perhaps the best is yet to come, because he is carefully breaking in the rookies and putting together a strong line up. He’s far from perfect of course. But overall, he can’t be doing too bad, can he?

    Obviously you are both entitled to your opinions, and really that’s what this blog is about, opinions. But can’t you just hang on for more than 2 periods before you start complaining about how the team is doing?

  33. mar-lin says:

    Maybe they just need the extra body in the stands in case of injury. He’d already be there and besides he’d need to practice with the team a little. Again just in case somebody else gets hurt in the next few games, here’s the link.

    http://canadiens.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=348168

    cheers

    go habs go

  34. NEWFOUNDLAND DOG says:

    Kovalev gives away 8 pucks on recent PP. It is all forgotten when he rings the puck off a NY player to the montreal player to set up the Tying goal. Way to go Kovy.

    Montreal is in the lead. Way to go boys.

    Nice save by Huet in the dieing seconds of the 2nd period.

    Keep it up boys. Maybe They will get thier 3 games in a row and prove the critics wrong.

  35. NEWFOUNDLAND DOG says:

    Why in the blue hell does Carbo keep playing Kovalev on the powerplay? All Kovalev does on the PP is give away the puck.

    Ryder is playing great tonight. He drew the Penalty he should play on the PP. Ryders line gets 15 seconds as like all of the PP in the last two games. Carbo is Useless.

    As one poster in here once said before he got ran out of here by some not so nice posters. “Montreal will not put a winning streak together anymore than 2 games in a row the rest of this season”. So far he is spot on.

    Oh by the way. Huet can’t play 3 good games in a row. He is a 2 game goalie.

  36. mar-lin says:

    stick in the mud

  37. The Teacher says:

    Yes..that is why I flagged it.

  38. The Teacher says:

    I’ve noticed you post seemingly only when the Habs are losing. Does that mean if they win you’ll disappear?

  39. mar-lin says:

    the last superstar traded hmmm let me see…luongo? Stats and money are the easiest way to see if a certain player has the “potential” to be a better player on another team. It’s not as easy as splitting his salary…pay scale and bonuses play a huge part.Honestly i don’t see Blake replacing any of our current “D”…excluding breezebye ;)I do however like frolov quite a bit, i think the players we have now NEED the playoff experrience. We already have Dandy and Hammer with p-off exp. so the benefit of blake would be small at best.We are at that point where role player aren’t in short supply around here. I’ll gladly wait till next season if it means we’ll try again for that difference maker. I know it’s hard with multiple superstars…no kidding but one successful FA or UFA and we’re a deep p-off team.

    this is some quality sparring!

    cheers

    go habs go

  40. mar-lin says:

    I agree i was just using him as an example of the type of quality we should be asking for.

    cheers

  41. mar-lin says:

    i disagree lats has more heart than handzus and i don’t think he’s far off in regards to talent just a different kind that’s all.

    cheers

    go habs go

  42. Bill H says:

    Wow! Locke joining the team is a real surprise. I agree with your comments…where does he fit in? Well, we will see soon enough. I was hoping to see the same lines that have been looking so good. Why change things now? Who would be in the press box to accommodate Locke?

  43. krob1000 says:

    did they just say Locke didn’t get his equipment and won’t e able to play???

  44. jablonski says:

    I have been very pleased with Huet’s efforts in the last couple of games but even though he has been playing well his stats and Price’s stats are still very similar. At the trade deadline if Bob gets a good offer for Huet then I think he should pull the trigger. Because LA NEEDS a goalie they could send us a Michael Handzus who is a huge center with offensive touch which is what we need especially against the Flyers, Rangers, Leafs and the much bigger western conference.

    Matt J

  45. POPS says:

    mar-lin, don’t get so caught up in stats. Blake costs us 3mil. because 1/2 the season is gone and he is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Frolov has size and youth and it appears he could be available. Blake brings experience and does not have to be a go to guy. He could settle into a 4th D role and special teams guy much like Chelios in Detroit. Did you see Chelios in the playoffs last year? I think a guy like Blake or Foote could do the same in Montreal and they both have the savy and experience we need! Getting a superstar is: A) difficult to do (name the last one traded and what he was traded for) B) not worth giving up the whole system for (ask TB and PITT who have a few superstars and not much else).

  46. The Cat says:

    Trading Huet for Handzus would be a mistake. Remember that big brawl Ottawa had against Philly a couple of years ago, well Fisher kicked Handzus’ ass. And if Im gonna get a big centreman for Huet, he better be big and play big too.

  47. Smart Dog says:

    I’d take Lats over Hanzus. Similar stats. More potential.
    ________________________________________________________________
    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  48. Smart Dog says:

    I agree, though on the other hand, if I needed tickets, I would be tempted to post. Maybe HIO could make some kind of bulletin board for things like that?
    ________________________________________________________________
    Be happy! At least the FUTURE looks bright!
    Plekanec, Higgins, Komi, Chips, Lapierre, O’Byrne, K1 &K2, Price

  49. PGHABS says:

    Handzus sounds like another former Canadien…. Radek Bonk… trading for Handzus would be a mistake

  50. Chorske says:

    Price has been soft his past couple of outings. Huet has made it abundantly clear that he is our #1. Price has made it clear (to me at least) that he needs some more time to grow into the job. I’d love to see Huet extended a couple years.

  51. Chorske says:

    LOL, the Dustin Brown who is signed for about 20 Mil until 2015? Doesnt sound like the kind of guy a team would be willing to ‘throw in’ to a trade.

  52. Hoegarden says:

    Retro,
    I too, although I do not see the Bulldogs play, am in full agreement that Locke deserves a shot. I’ve posted a few times hoping he gets a call up to the bigs. He’s been a terrific player up to now and I’m pleased to hear from someone on the spot that he is doing well.

  53. Vincent is possible says:

    Fight Night!

    Lapierre vs Avery! Who else can see this happening?

    ___________________________________________________________________________
    “WE WANT VINCE! WE WANT VINCE!”

  54. Rugger says:

    Could it mean the much anticipated Ryder trade has happened, but not announced yet? Personally i hope not.

  55. Chorske says:

    Dude, call me a stick in the mud, but I really don’t think folks should be selling tickets on this site. Use craigslist or something. I’d hate to see the site become swamped with offers/requests for tickets.

  56. Vecs says:

    Huet’s states aren’t even close to being the same as Price’s. They have a similar amount of wins but Huet has a better GAA and he actually has the best save percentage in the league at .931. That’s pretty damn good. You don’t trade that away unless you’re getting something impressive back. Sure, I agree Bob should pull the trigger but only for an awesome trade. The league is crap right now. Especially the East. We have a real shot of going deep into the playoffs. I don’t think Price will take us there this year. Maybe in a couple more years.

  57. RetroMikey says:

    Great to see Corey Locke finally given the chance to play for the big team! As a season ticket holder for the Bulldogs, this kid has all the necessities to make it in the NHL (another Daniel Briere clone I say). Too bad if we did not have Saku, Corey would be on our roster full time guaranteed! This kid deserves it and not too worry Habs fans, Matt DAgostini still has some work to develop in the organization before he is ready to play in the NHL!

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  58. Bill H says:

    mar-lin…yes, I agree LOL. A -15 is scarey after a the year the Habs had last year. The LA =/- stats look a lot like Canadiens last year. Right now, LA has 13W 24L 2OT. When you are losing like that as a team, you are going to have a lot of players showing big -numbers.

  59. Bill H says:

    I like a Blake and Frolov trade POPS. He’s having an off year so far, but upside potential is there. And the way Huet is playing, LA might go for a little more stability in net.

    Year to date: 2007-08 GP28 G4 A19 P23 =/- -10
    On Pace: GP71 G10 A48 P58 +/- -25

    2006-07 Los Angeles NHL GP82 G35 A36 P71 +/- -8
    2005-06 Los Angeles NHL GP69 G21 A33 P54 +/- +17
    Scouting Report
    Assets Has excellent size and reach. Is an impact forward at both ends of the ice. Loves to rush with the puck and excels in the corners.
    Flaws Is inconsistent on offense, and needs to do a better job of bringing his ‘A’ game to the rink more often. Passes up too many shots.
    Career potential Top six winger.

  60. Vincent is possible says:

    I remember watching Lapierre taunt Avery last year. I remember Lapierre hitting Avery and Avery getting all “crybaby” and Lapierre saying to him “What’s your name?… Avery? …Never heard of you!” and then skated away. Classic! Man I was in hysterics! Lets hope for some more comedy from Max tonight!

    ___________________________________________________________________________

    “WE WANT VINCE! WE WANT VINCE!”

  61. mar-lin says:

    Handzus is really struggling right now and Huet isn’t, i’d rather not trade for him just because he’s big. He’s never really exploded like philly hoped he would or chicago for that matter. He also carries 4mil. salary which spells risky buissness to me. Just don’t think he’s the big guy we’re looking for…

    here’s his stats

    http://www.nhlpa.com/WebStats/PlayerBiography.asp?ID=2180

    cheers

    go habs go


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.