Game 50: Huet, Habs blank Caps, Ovechkin 4-0

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Canadiens’ Sergei Kostitsyn converts a Tomas Plekanec pass for a first-period goal against Washington Capitals goalie Brent Johnson.
Christinne Muschi, Reuters

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Those fans hoping the Canadiens would pick up where they left off last week – a marvelous come-from-behind victory over the nearly invincible New Jersey Devils – are not disappointed tonight.

The Canadiens returned to action following the NHL’s annual all-star break with first-period goals by Mark Streit, Sergei Kostitsyn and Saku Koivu, then shut down Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin with perfect Cristobal Huet goalkeeping until Alex Kovalev netted a final-minute goal to record a 4-0 triumph over the Capitals at the Bell Centre.

Huet made 35 saves to record his second shutout of the season, the first coming Nov. 5 against the Buffalo Sabres. It was his 15th career whitewash.

With the win over coach Bruce Boudreau’s Capitals, the Canadiens remain six points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators, 5-2 winners over the Islanders tonight on Long Island. The Habs hold a game in hand.

Montreal improved to 10-8-5 at the Bell Centre, a little less of a black hole for the home team, for an overall record of 27-15-8.

In name, at least, this was the same sport that staged an all-star game on Sunday in Atlanta. But where the annual “classic” was a sleepwalk, tonight’s game featured some heavy hitting and plenty of heads-up play – lest there be even more heavy hitting.

Canadiens defenceman Mark Streit opened the scoring with his seventh of the season off a one-timer on the power-play, fed by all-star blue-liner Andrei Markov and forward Michael Ryder at 9:46 of the first period.

You’ll not often see anything smarter or more opportunistic than Sergei Kostitsyn’s shorthanded goal at 16:53, 200-game veteran Tomas Plekanec anticipating a Capitals pass deep in Montreal ice, intercepting it and streaking down the rink.

Kostitsyn joined the rush, having burst out of the penalty box after a 33-second Capitals 5-on-3 with Steve Bégin also in the box, to convert the perfect, selfless pass from Plekanec for his fourth of the season.

Did we say opportunistic? The Canadiens struck once again at 18:25, Saku Koivu drilling home a pass out from behind the Washington net for his 10th, having been fed by Bégin. Koivu had begun the play, his head-man pass to Bégin missing its target, but Bégin chased down the puck for the pass back to his charging captain.

Kovalev rounded out the scoring with his 22nd of the year, banging in a power-play rebound, assisted by Plekanec and Streit.

Huet faced 15 first-period shots. Brent Johnson made 11 saves at the other end of the ice through the first 20 minutes. The Caps outshot Montreal 13-11 in the scoreless second.

The two teams meet again on Capitals ice on Thursday before the Canadiens return home for Super Bowl-weekend matinées vs. the New York Islanders on Saturday and New York Rangers on Sunday.

Canadiens players congratulate goalie Cristobal Huet on the netminder’s second shutout of the season, a 4-0 victory tonight over the Washington Capitals.
Christinne Muschi, Reuters

212 Comments

  1. T-roy West says:

    Exactly!

  2. The Teacher says:

    Nope, they do get a point for losing, just because they obtain it after 60 minutes means nothing. One of them will lose anyways so the loser of a game that goes into overtime always gets a point ;) Hence a loser point. I’m not talking rules as set by the NHL, I’m talking common sense here as a knowledgeable hockey fan.

    why would you have shootout for all the marble but not 3 on 3. at least three on three can happen. 3-on-3 is at least hockey related. just give em two coincidental minors each.

    Wait a minute

    NEW THEORY, NEW THEORY!!!!!!!!

    The shootout is actually a punishment for the players! (A.K.A. a penalty)for not ending the game soon enough.

    That is the only time a penalty shot, a.k.a shootout would be called in a regular game, for an infraction.

  3. T-roy West says:

    What are you afraid of? Are you hoping that if we stay under the radar that other teams will take us lightly? Reality check – that isn’t going to happen! This is the drive for the playoffs and nobody is going to take anyone for granted. Higgins wasn’t getting cocky or bragging nor was he saying anything wrong. Going after Ottawa is the best thing to do and if you come up short then at least we made the playoffs. Koivu suggested the same! We always are dying to hear what our players have to say and when they do, we say they shouldn’t say that – yeah right!!! You ask what does a statement like that really benefit in Montreal. Well for starters it means we are a team that believes in ourselves and where we want to be, that we know we can be better and are going to try and do just that. Also that they want to be the team that will be sitting in top spot by the end of the season. I love that attitude. Montreal fans should believe in this team because they believe in themselves!

  4. The Teacher says:

    I don’t know, because I would have started Halak against the Devils.

    I would start Halak against the Senators :P

  5. coutNY says:

    Which is why I suggested;
    2 points for outright win
    2 points for an 5 minute OT win
    1 point for a Shootout win (because its a tie breaker abnormal hockey situation)

    If a team knows that they have to win to get points their will be no letting up…

    Not against the structure but more that teams get a point for surviving REGULATION. No other sport gives a point to a team that survives regulation play. So my question is how did they actually earn this point????

  6. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Two thumbs up for Higins & Koivu for their comments. I don’t see what the big deal is, it’s not like they guaranteed the stanley cup. My problem is that we need more people like Higgy & Saku. GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!


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