Game 5: Panthers rally to down Canadiens 2-1 in shootout

0fitefite.gifCanadiens’ Tom Kostopoulos and Florida’s Noah Welch mix it up.
Allen McInnis, Gazette

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Jozef Stumpel beat Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet on Florida’s third effort in a shootout, giving the Panthers a 2-1 victory over a Canadiens team that had dominated the game almost from start to finish.

Stumpel drew the puck to his backhand and beat Huet along the ice to give the victory to the Panthers (3-3-0). The Canadiens fall to 2-1-2 with the loss.

Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau sat two very popular members of his team in the press box tonight. From seven storeys up in the Bell Centre, forwards Steve Bégin and Guillaume Latendresse saw their team turn in an excellent performance against the Panthers.

But a slashing penalty to Montreal defenceman Mike Komisarek at 17:46 of the third period led to tying goal by Florida’s Nathan Horton with 11 seconds left in regulation time.

Komisarek was racing back into the play, just out of the penalty box, when Horton whipped in the unassisted tying goal with Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun on the bench in favour of a sixth attacker.

Vokoun deservedly was the first star of the game, making 35 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout. Huet stopped 24, and another two in the shootout. The Canadiens goal was particularly sharp in the dying moments of the game until he was beaten.

Christopher Higgins, Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev were stoned by Vokoun in the shootout.

Kovalev had given the Canadiens a 1-0 lead, showing a deft touch around the net by cradling, pulling back then flipping a power-play rebound off a point shot by defenceman Roman Hamrlik past Vokoun at 2:53 of the first period. That goal stood up almost to the end.

Montreal dominated the first, outshooting Florida 15-4. In fact, the Panthers’ first excellent chance didn’t come until about eight minutes into the second period when former Hab Richard Zednik plucked the puck out of the skates of defenceman Patrice Brisebois and broke in alone on Huet, the goalie making a nice glove save on the attempted deke.

Fifteen minutes into the second, Canadiens’ Tom Kostopoulos showed the tough stuff of which he’s made: he was flattened coming out of his own end by Florida defenceman Bryan Allen, then raced down the ice to return the favour 12 seconds later by decking Panthers captain Olli Jokinen. That would touch off a short scrap between Kostopoulos and Florida rearguard Noah Welch at 16:53.

Montreal will practice Wednesday afternoon before leaving for Ottawa, where they take on the Senators in Kanata on Thursday.

PREGAME NOTES

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SECOND HOME GAME

After three consecutive road games (Carolina, Toronto and Pittsburgh), the Canadiens opened their 11th complete season at the Bell Centre by hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. In a second consecutive home game, they face the Florida Panthers.

Seven of the last 10 Canadiens’ season openers were played on the road. The 2007-08 season marks the seventh consecutive time the Canadiens played away from Montreal to start the season. The last season opener to be held in Montreal was on October 2, 1999 as the Canadiens lost 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens boast a 34-13-10 record in 57 home openers in the NHL.

CLOSING IN ON 100

The Canadiens began the 99th season of their history and a 91st in the NHL. Since 1917-18, the Canadiens have played 5,712 games, winning 2,934, losing 1,900, along with 837 ties and 42 overtime losses.

UPCOMING GAMES

Three of the next five Canadiens games will be played on the road. After a visit to the Senators on Thursday, the team comes back to Montreal for contests against Buffalo and Boston October 20-22, before the first of eight back-to-back games this season, October 26-27 in Carolina and Pittsburgh respectively.

18/10/07 @ Ottawa
20/10/07 vs Buffalo
22/10/07 vs Boston
26/10/07 @ Carolina
27/10/07 @ Pittsburgh

Lifetime Series
CANADIENS VS PANTHERS

The Canadiens play against the Panthers for a first time this season. It is the 52nd regular-season matchup between the Canadiens and Florida, with the Panthers holding a 24-20-6-1 edge.

16/10/07 vs Florida 19h30
18/12/07 vs Florida 19h30
28/12/07 @ Florida 19h30
13/02/07 @ Florida 19h30

Recent Canadiens Games

Last 5 MTL Games: 2 – 1 – 1 Last 10 MTL Games: 2 – 1 – 1
D 3-1 L – 13 octobre ∕ Oct. 13 vs Carolina

The Canadiens conceded two power-play goals (Stillman and Cullen) and an empty-netter (Larose) late in the third frame on their way to a 3-1 loss. Cristobal Huet, the game’s first star, was brilliant despite collecting his first regulation-time defeat this season, giving up only two goals on 37 Carolina shots. Christopher Higgins scored his 1st goal of the season, assisted by Saku Koivu, who collected a fourth assist this season.

V 3-2 W – 10 octobre ∕ Oct. 10 @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Andrei Markov’s second goal the year, netted early in the third period, proved to be the game winner as the Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Other Montreal scorers were Tomas Plekanec and Alex Kovalev, both collecting a first tally this season. The game was also highlighted by the NHL debut of two rookies and former first-round picks : centreman Kyle Chipchura, who played 12:11 minutes, and netminder Carey Price, who recorded his first win while turning away 26 of the 28 pucks he faced. For the second time in three games the Canadiens outshot their opponents, this time 35 to 28.

D EN PROL. 4-3 L IN OT – 6 octobre ∕ Oct. 6 @ Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Canadiens 4-3 on a Tomas Kaberle overtime goal. It was a second consecutive overtime game for the Canadiens, whose goals were produced by defenseman Andrei Markov and forwards Mathieu Dandenault and Andrei Kostitsyn. Markov led all Montreal skaters with 28:53 minutes of ice-time and collected his third (1-2) point of the season with a short-handed goal in the second period. The Canadiens outshot Toronto 31-28 and won 61% of the face-offs.

V EN PROL. 3-2 W IN OT – 3 octobre ∕ Oct. 3 @ Carolina Hurricanes

Saku Koivu netted two goals including the game winner in overtime against Cam Ward to give the Canadiens a win in their 99th season opener. Christopher Higgins, who set up the game-winning tally, collected six shots on goal while Andrei Markov amassed two assists. Cristobal Huet made 29 saves while his teammates shot 40 times on his counterpart. Defenseman Roman Hamrlik as well as forwards Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos played their first game in a Canadiens’ uniform.

50th ANNIVERSARY OF RICHARD’s 500th GOAL

October 19, 2007 will mark the 50th anniversary of Maurice Richard’s 500th NHL goal. Richard’s milestone tally came against Glenn Hall, in a 3-1 Canadiens victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, October 19, 1957 at the Forum. Jean Béliveau and Dickie Moore collected assists on the goal by The Rocket, who became the first-ever player to reach that plateau. Other players who later reached the 500-goal mark in a Canadiens uniform include Jean Béliveau (Feb. 11, 1971), Frank Mahovlich (March 21, 1973) and Guy Lafleur (Dec. 20, 1983).

PROSPECT REPORT

Ryan White, who returned from the Canadiens’ training camp four games into the WHL’s regular season, was awarded the Future Consideration’s players of the week award. The centreman recorded ten points over his last seven games, helping the Calgary Hitmen to the top of the CHL Top 10 rankings.


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