Game 52: Super start to Canadiens’ weekend

Canadiens’ Michael Ryder takes exception to Blake Comeau’s hit-from-behind of Habs’ Christopher Higgins. The latter escaped injury on a scary-looking play, and both Ryder and Comeau drew minor penalties for this exchange.
André Ringuette, NHLI via Getty Images

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The Canadiens’ Super Bowl weekend is off to a super start, thanks to their reinvigorated life at the Bell Centre.

Goals by Tomas Plekanec, Mark Streit, Alex Kovalev and Mathieu Dandenault lifted the Habs to a 4-1 victory this afternoon over the New York Islanders in the first of the Canadiens’ two weekend home-ice matinées.

Goalie Cristobal Huet, playing his 11th consecutive game, made 29 saves to earn his 19th victory of the season, tying his career-best for wins. He iced it with a daring rush to his blue line in the game’s final minute to foil an Islanders breakaway.

A tepid 6-7-4 at home in mid-December, the Habs are now a strong 5-1-1 at the Bell Centre in 2008. They’ll hope to make that 6-1-1 Sunday afternoon when the New York Rangers pay a 2 p.m. visit.

Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro made a huge difference early in today’s first period, foiling three Canadiens power plays and making a number of fine saves. The teams were even with nine shots each through the first 20 minutes; the Islanders blocked nine more to the Canadiens’ three, giving Montreal an edge in the play.

Forward Christopher Higgins avoided what could have been a serious injury at 16:40, driven head-first into the corner boards by New York’s Blake Comeau. The Islander and Habs’ Michael Ryder, who rallied to the fallen Higgins’s defence, drew minor penalties for the incident.

Montreal killed a frantic, minute-long 5-on-3 disadvantage in the late stages, both Tomas Plekanec and Mike Komisarek in the penalty box.

Plekanec got the Canadiens onto the scoresheet first, with Komisarek still off, 37 seconds into the second period. Alex Kovalev intercepted a blue-line pass by captain Bill Guerin to break out with Plekanec, craftily dropping the puck through his legs to his linemate who closed tighter and whipped a shot past DiPietro for his 17th goal of the season.

Comeau tied it up at 5:01, slipped a shot beneath Huet on a 2-on-1 pass from Miro Satan. Returning Canadiens defenceman Patrice Brisebois had given the puck away just inside the Islanders blue line, leaving Roman Hamrlik the sole defender back.

The Canadiens pulled back in front on the power play, Mark Streit scoring his eighth on a perfect through-the-defender’s-skates pass from Saku Koivu at 7:32. Trent Hunter was off for tripping Brisebois.

Then Kovalev bagged his 23rd on a New York turnover, lacing a shot through the skates of in-reverse Islanders defenceman Andy Sutton and DiPietro at 12:35.

The Islanders outshot Montreal 10-8 in the second period.

Mathieu Dandenault, returning to the lineup after having spent the past four games as a healthy scratch in the press box, finished off the scoring at 17:21 of the third on a pretty, patient pass from Streit.

Montreal outshot the Islanders 32-30.

171 Comments

  1. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Enough with the Brisebois experiment. His giveaway could have cost us the game. Lucky for us we were playing an Islanders team riddled with the flu. I hope both Begin & Kostopoulos are back in tomorrow against the Rangers. We will need their physical presence. Also, would like to see Halak between the pipes and give Huet a well deserved rest. GO HABS GO!!!!!!

  2. 24 Cups says:

    This hitting from behind really bothers me. I know that some players turn the wrong way or leave themselves open but still you think there would be a little more respect and caution displayed. One day somebody is going to suffer a spinal injury instead of a concussion and then everyone will feel remorse and guilt over what happened. Too late then. Ryder took the guy on and sometimes the NHL suspends a player but it still doesn’t seem to change the number of infractions. Higgins was lucky today but what about the next guy?

    The Original 24 Cups

  3. Habster101 says:

    yes our goaltending is impeccable,,,loved seeing Huet dive for the puck and knock out a possible breakaway…

    but man, if it wasn’t for DiPietro, this game would have been 10 – 1

  4. Da Hema says:

    I know this is verboten but let us cheer on the Leaves against the Sens.

    The Boys played another wonderful game. I had no doubt they would win after Plekanec scored that short-handed goal. I can only hope that Brisebois does not play tomorrow. It is difficult to imagine Brisebois making this team next season, so thank God Gainey only inked him to a one-year deal. While I am glad Dandenault scored, the fact is Markov’s pass to Streit caught the Isles flatfooted and anyone would have scored that goal. The Habs are a better team without Brisebois and Dandenault in the lineup. Both are ballast now.

    Koivu played a fine game. That pass to Higgins should have resulted in a goal, but it was so good everyone seemed fooled by it. The CBC curse is lifted. Bring on the Rangers!

    _________________________________________________________
    “The worst day of fishing beats the best day of working.”
    –Martin Crane, “Frasier”

  5. N.B.habs fan says:

    THERE IS ALLWAYS SOMEWONE TO WHINE NO MATTER IF WE WIN OR LOSE- WAY TO GO TEAM NOW 3PTS AWAY FROM FIRST………..

  6. PGHABS says:

    That was a great win.
    The Habs goaltending depth is the best in the NHL.

  7. 24 Cups says:

    The Habs can only go to the well so many times as far as Brisebois is concerned. These blind outlet/cross ice/up the middle passes will one day cost us big time when it counts the most in a game. We got away with it today because we were playing an inferior team that has difficuty scoring goals. I don’t have a vendetta for the guy, I’m just commenting on what I’m seeing. It will be even more of a dilemma when O’Byrne comes back.

    The Original 24 Cups

  8. rogus says:

    No doubt, and do it quick before someone else realizes his value!

  9. Habster101 says:

    LOL exactly…..Striet is an assett on this team…

  10. Habster101 says:

    This was a beautiful win on CBC Toronto network….the Leaf loving commentators are realising that Montreal is for real, they are blown away…LOL

    comparing them to Detroit….

    this is Great!!!!!

  11. Bill H says:

    I guess the bashers will be disappointed. Koivu picked up an assist. That makes him 5 points in 5 games and a +2. Gee, I wonder when he’s going to break out of his slump. We should trade him for a bag of pucks alright.

  12. Hoegarden says:

    to Bob Gainey,
    please break the no-negociations during the season rule and get Streit signed up for the next 3-4 years.

  13. Habster101 says:

    Wow great game!!!!!

    there is absolutely nothing negative to say about todays game.

    every player except Breez played great…

    even Higgins…if Higgins plays like he did today, he will start scoring again…

    Ryder is a Beast! I will attack at anyone who still thinks he should be traded….he is a powerhouse…

    this has been by far the best game all year….they are playing at the calibre of playoff quality…they stand up for eachother, I loved the way Ryder responded and stook up for Higgins…..Thats what you do….

    Latron was fine out there…

    Gorges is good too, he moves the puck well , hits and will sacrifice getting hit to move the puck….ten times more better than Breez…

    Lets hope that the crappy Laffs can steal a win off the Sens tonight…help them refs, help them…like you do all the time.

  14. Robert L says:

    Ian – I’ll try to whip something up at my blog and help spread the word. It is kind of doubtful that I can make it on that date because of travel team committments near that time of year. Look for something in the next day or two.

  15. Shiloh says:

    I think Latendresse had possession of the puck for about ten seconds during his last shift after it was 4-1. That should make his total for the game – oh, about twelve seconds. He is lost out there.

    But otherwise, Wooooooo-Hoooooooo!! Great to see the lads do it on CBC. The whole country’s gotta sit up and take notice now.

  16. Sulemaan says:

    Ian, you’re killing me buddy. I have to fly to Halifax that weekend. Otherwise I would have been there. Sigh. (Unless I can somehow change my plans…)

  17. MNaslund26 says:

    the breezer hasnt made one pass or one play that hasn’t resulted in a turnover. yet he continues to play….

  18. knucklesnilan says:

    The only thing Bob needs to get at the deadline is a stay at home D-Man who can play about 10-15 minutes per game.
    Brisebois can’t play anymore and I don’t have that much faith in Gorges.
    I have seen the replays 2x and i still haven’t seen where Komisarek got the hooking penalty. The only thing I seen was Comrie spearing him in the groin!!

  19. Ian G Cobb says:

    I confess, he does make it hard on the nerves.

  20. Shiloh says:

    Ian – tell the troops that staying in Toronto is also an option. Go-train to Hamilton is about 15 bucks return and there’s about 8 trains a day.

  21. Ian G Cobb says:

    Chuck–Call me at (613) 968- 9807 pertaining to April 11, Habs summit in Hamilton. Dave Robinson ect.—- Anyone else want some information on tickets and agenda, hotel etc. It is starting to come together for all of us. See you all there.IAN

  22. Shobud says:

    Hey Don’t knock him. He got an assist. Too bad it was a goal on us. I worry everytime he is on the ice

  23. originalsix says:

    Brisebois ugh..disgusting.

  24. Gormdog says:

    He refuses to accept that he doesnt have the skills to be a effective offensive defenseman. Save your fancy moves for the dogsledding.

  25. Shiloh says:

    Brisebois – what a half-hearted useless play! Get him off the ice.

  26. Ian G Cobb says:

    He is playing well today, i’m glad he is in there.!

  27. Ian G Cobb says:

    I’m with you on this one nightmare.!

  28. Ian G Cobb says:

    I am going to go and watch the game . Get back later ._IAN

  29. Ian G Cobb says:

    Alirio– That is what runs the world, FEAR, GREED and KNOWLEDGE. I chose to only only have the ladder.!!

  30. Alirio says:

    Guys!

    Am I the only one who can’t link to Boone’s blog????

    Help me out here!


    I’ve made a huge mistake…

  31. Ian G Cobb says:

    Right on Chuck, go for it and get back to me please.

  32. Alex_V says:

    i see the lineup change as follows:

    put in breezer and dandy to rest the grinders for the real battle tomorrow against the Rangers.

    last time against the rangers we were awful. Not able to gain the offensive zone, virtually no forechecking at all. It was a pitiful effort all around.

    Rest the bash brothers, let Dandy on so as to not alienate him, and put Breezer somewhere where he can’t hurt the team too badly… if we get lucky he’ll have an unfortunate accident before the game.

  33. showey47 says:

    well i think breezer is the only player who hasn’t played right wing on the koivu line yet, lmao. But believe me i feel your pain, i have already got the crown royal out and i will lessen the pain by just drinking it out of the bottle directly from the bag.

  34. showey47 says:

    no offence ian and believe me i have all the respect in the world for you but i can’t sit back and relax when #71 in playing in our end. I haven nothing against him personally but i don’t like the situations carbo uses him in, for example as a penalty killer or matched up against the other teams top lines which happens because carbo pairs him with hamrlik.

  35. Hoegarden says:

    Re comments on afternoon games and Super Bowl week-end. Our record is;
    36 W 16 L and 6 Ties. Need we add to that ?

    Re Higgins; I mentioned that he would snap out of it if playing with Lapierre and SK74, however I truly believe we have our second version of the Kid Line with Latendresse.

    We have two solid lines; The Kovy line is our Production Line this year and I would not touch our Kid Line until it proves to be a failure.

    Ryder obviously has lost the trigger and just cannot locate it, Saku is hard to figure out at times and Higgins is trying too hard.
    Streit wants to stay back on the blue and Dandenault is between a rock and a hard place right now, unsure of his future with the Habs.
    Fortunately, the Habs have been spared major injuries and the chemistry is as good as it’s been in years.
    A trade seems like the only solution but is Bob willing to part with some of the assets the team has ?
    Many questions for us fans this late into the season.

  36. Chuck says:

    And my I also suggest The Honest Lawyer as a post-game meeting point. It’s quite literally a 2-minute walk from Copps Coliseum (it’s on the same block) and is where I ran across Guy Carbonneau after one of the ‘Dogs Calder Cup games last spring.
    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________
    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  37. Habster101 says:

    well, I sure hope he breaks out tonight or this weekend,

    he in my opinion is the reason the 1st line isn’t clicking….if he can create more of a contributuin this team may becaom unstoppable…

    fingers are crossed, but I hope he doesn’t P me off today or everyone is going to be hearing it from me…..lol

    \
    go habs go!!!

  38. Chuck says:

    Ian, I have some good friends who work for the Bulldogs, and the info for the hotel that the ‘Dogs partner with; I can check to see if we could get some sort of group rate.
    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________
    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  39. Alirio says:

    Ian,

    As someone who doesn’t have cable, and can only watch Habs games when they’re on the CBC, I can’t sit back and relax.

    They’ve done terribly this year on CBC and I am just worried that all I’ll get to see is a Habs team that wasn’t prepared.

    I have faith in the coaches. I have faith in the players. I DON’T have faith in their chances of doing well at home on CBC.

    I sincerely hope that this isn’t the beginning of the end, but I wonder how Breezer (fractured foot-bones and all) will do against a hungry team after being on the shelf for so long… And how will Dandy perform if he’s concerned about his spot on the roster. I fear he might play with too much self-imposed pressure today.

    GO HABS!

    Alirio

    I’ve made a huge mistake…

  40. Ian G Cobb says:

    I’ll call you at the Gazzette once Mike Loncar and I have another talk.–IAN

  41. Bill H says:

    He’s on record for wanting to sign Huet at $4.5M – $5M a year over 4 years.

  42. Ian G Cobb says:

    Phone the Club at the Bell Center or ticket master. I don’t have the # with me here. But if you can’t get any get back to me.

  43. Bill H says:

    Playing the goaltender that gives you the best chance to win the game is a simplistic way of managing 3 goalies between 2 hockey clubs who are at different stages of their careers. Winning today is not the only consideration.

  44. Ian G Cobb says:

    Fabrication only, by the way, who did you say his agent was??

  45. likehoy says:

    well halak could be splitting time in the AHL with mr. price…and we call up danis to warm the bench. Halak is not getting a fair treatment at all.

  46. Ian G Cobb says:

    Each different team that we play requires a different response in personel, when will you people understand that we have the winningest coaching staff in the league and they know all our players INSIDE AND OUT. Right down to who has a hangnail tonight and who might match up better and so on. Try to enjoy the changes and look at them as diversifying plays a key role in the opposition not ever knowing how to play us on a given night. We have the very best professional coaching staff since Jacques Demerse.

    Have a little faith and patience, sit back and enjoy this ride to the top, it is a great trip that we are on.!!!

  47. RiverviewCanadien says:

    Ian, I would love to join you all but being in NB, it’s along way for me. If you guys plan one for a Habs game, I would be very interested. By the way do you know where I can get tickets for Feb 26 vs ATL (my fiancee’s b-day is coming up and we love montreal)?

  48. HNS says:

    I just read here of mention on Jagr becoming a hab……I just puked…..

  49. Dave Stubbs says:

    Ian, this is terrific news. I spoke this week with Dave Robinson, a front-office guy with the Bulldogs, who contacted me to discuss the idea. He has ambitious plans for the event. I told him of the success of the first (annual?) Habs Inside/Out Fan Summit, and he’s tapping into the expertise of our friend Yeats and others from the Montreal organizing committee to see how it was pulled together.

    Who knows who might wander down to Steeltown from Montreal for the ‘Dogs summit? Depends on where the Canadiens might be, as that will be the first weekend of the NHL playoffs, but anything is possible at this point.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette

     

  50. Ian G Cobb says:

    Hey every body.! Mike,I and others have talked over time about a Hamilton Summit for all of us. We now have a date, April 11, the Toronto farm club the Marlies are in town to take on Price, Chip, and the rest of our young habs.

    Just like the great time we had in Mtl. organized by Jay in PA and many others, we want to have a similar great event for all of us in Hamilton.

    Mike has a contact with the club, and we need to know very soon how many tickets we need. We need someone to check for accomadations close to the rink if possible, and a group price per room for those who wish to stay over.

    And a restaurant or club where we might have a meal together and where we might enjoy a pint after the game together.

    We need to know who and how many, and we need a person that has a little more skill on this computer than I to help organise and communicate with everyone.

    As the hockey club becomes more involved and set up different events for us we will let you know. We will set up a phone line or central E-mail for you as soon as we have someone that knows how to do this. Let me know if you can help out. -IAN

  51. habfan53 says:

    Where did you hear that?? Because I don’t beleive it

  52. 24 Cups says:

    Xtra – I think a better question is would LA or Tampa pay him that kind of money over the long term. Because if the answer is no, then I don’t see anybody else signing him and the price will come down. He also has to compete against Emery, Thoedore, and maybe even Kolzig. If he doesn’t sign in the first few days of July then the Habs could be back in the picture.

    The Original 24 Cups

  53. nightmare_49 says:

    If that report is correct then we’ll know what the majority of the posts will be today , most from Breezer’s fan club. I see nothing wrong with these changes as we got to keep our grinders fresh.

  54. WindsorHab-10 says:

    I’ll be very surprised if Halak is not in the nets for one of those games. He needs to get in and show us what he has in case something happens to Huet. Based on his play last year, I think he’s capable and hopefully will be rewarded with a start, preferably tomorrow against the Rangers.

  55. nightmare_49 says:

    I must be Chuck’s echo.

  56. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Our future rests with Price and may be even Halak. Based on that I would not commit to signing him to any long term deal. He’s been good for us when called upon but I question whether or not he’s in the class of Kiprossof and Brodeur as far as playing every game. So far this season, he’s been good for 3 or so games but then falters. I still think he’ll be dealt by or before the deadline.

  57. nightmare_49 says:

    Price played well last night but has been inconsistent in his play in Hamilton but you have to consider his defence in front of him is very young compared to other AHL teams and prone to errors. He’s coming along fine now. BTW Chipchura didn’t play last night as he has a leg injury which isn’t great news considering his wheels. Hopefully , he can play tonight in Winnipeg. Back to the big team.

  58. Alirio says:

    Streit gets moved to forward again…


    I’ve made a huge mistake…

  59. JF says:

    That doesn’t make sense to me. Brisebois is a defenseman; how does he replace Begin or Kostopoulos?

  60. The Teacher says:

    Hell, no.

  61. Alirio says:

    CKAC reports that Begin and Kostopoulos are out for Dandy and Breezer…

    Season four of LOST premiered on Thursday; the episode was entitled “The Beginning of the End”. I think this line-up change will also be known as the beginning of the end… of the Habs’ spot in the upper-half of playoff seeds…

    What is Carbo thinking???


    I’ve made a huge mistake…

  62. Chuck says:

    Actually, Price has been playing very well in Hamilton. Last night he stopped all 4 shooters in the shootout for a 2-1 win.

    His losses have been due to the fact that the ‘Dogs simply haven’t been able to put the puck in the net, including a stretch where they were shutout for just shy of 200 minutes (that’s 10 periods.)
    .
    .
    .

    ______________________________________
    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  63. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Huet’s agents going to asking 5-5.5 mil a year,would you the fan pay him that much?

  64. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Would you give Huet 5 mil a year?

  65. nightmare_49 says:

    Little off topic : Last Thursday i listened to the laffs game wrap up after their loss in OT. Color man Jim Ralph was complaining about the non call when the opposition hooked Gill that lead to the winning goal. During his crying Ralph said the same thing happened to Philly last year when they were out of it , that the refs didn’t call penalties to the opposition , who were contenders , cuz Philly was out of the picture for a playoff spot. So Ralph sees the reality that the laffs are out of it but i’m sure management didn’t like his reality.

  66. earl says:

    Goaltender selection isn’t about “raising values” for trades. You go with the goaltender that gives you the best chance to win.

    Best goaltender in the organization is also one of the best in the league – Huet.

    Gainey can make that decision in his sleep.

  67. JF says:

    If Huet plays well today, he could start again tomorrow. On the other hand, Halak was in goal for our only win against the Rangers last season. Whatever happens this weekend, I think it’s likely Halak will start against Toronto on Thursday.

    Price had a rough couple of games when he first went to Hamilton, but I’ve heard he’s doing better lately.

  68. carmine007 says:

    Halak I think will get the nod against the Rangers.

    I dont think Carbo will start Huet 2 games in a row. Halak has got to get some game time in.

    Also From what I’m hearing Price is having a tough time in Hamilton. It’s one of those situations where Gainey gambles a little in thinking of bring Price to the big show.

    Also I see the ex Habs Michael Lieghton is doing an impressive job here in my home town Albany, NY. Still wish Yann Denis would get a chance as well. Huet deserves a 2 year contract. Price needs another season in Hamilton before he’s absolutly ready for the big show.

    Just my thoughts……

    It’s NEVER over til it’s OVER!

  69. likehoy says:

    any possibility for halak to get a start this weekend?? i feel bad for the guy…he goes from starting every game in the AHL…to watch every game in the NHL…

    we’re ruining a young goalie to improve another young goalie, pointe finale. Trade halak, and at this point we’ll only get like a 2nd rounder max for him, but this is a kid’s career we’re ruining. He has enough talent to be a starter in the NHL and we don’t even showcase him to raise his value. His value at the moment is like I said, a second rounder or a depth player at max. This is a sad situation

  70. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Iwould love that to happen,me thinks we could use a shot of Jagr and it would be good for Ryder as well.

  71. Scotty90 says:

    Jagr in a Habs uniform….hmmm! it would make a lot of teams a little nervous down the stretch. I like it!

  72. Scotty90 says:

    I have a feeling this will be a break-out game for Higgins. his home town, family and friends will be watching, and he knows he needs to get the monkey off his back. I really don’t think its lack of effort on his part though. A combination of his timing may be off a little, he’s not particularly at the right place at the right time and just pure and simple bad luck! We’ve all experienced it and Higgy is no exception. Lets keep our fingers crossed because if he gets his touch back, that line will compete with Kovy’s and the race to the cup should be quite a ride. Have faith… I do!

    Enjoy the game folks.

    Ian…. forgot to empty my mug before I posted :)

  73. Xtrahabsfan says:

    I predict a huge week-end for Ryder which so so impresses the Rangers brass that a one for one swap for Jag-er is consummated.Oh yea,Ijust fell off the house I was roofing and landed on my noggin,lol

  74. ebk says:

    Agreed with everything you said up until you mentioned Cassie Campbell. She’s one of the worst announcers I’ve ever heard.

    Agree with you about Hughson, Hrudey and Millen. Hughson is the best play-by-play man in the business,hockey or baseball. Hrudey has lots of interesting things to say. Millen, the best thing you can say is that, if he is doing color, Harry Neale isn’t.

  75. 24 Cups says:

    Xtra – That’s not as crazy as you think, I even threw that idea out to ebk last night as an off the wall trade possibility. Jagr has to hit 84 points by the end of the year for his option year to kick in for 2008-09. That salary would be somewhere around $8.5 mil BUT only $5 mil is paid by his present team and the rest is paid by the Capitals. Same goes for the cap hit. Soooo, we could take Jagr on for the rest of this year and hopefully next year too. Our big cap year hit is the year after, 2009-10. Now, I have no idea what the Rangers would want but it wouldn’t be as high as you might think. Jagr isn’t a Renney type player, plus they wouldn’t mind taking Ryder off our hands to replace him. Throw in a young defenseman and you might just have a deal. (I realize they might want more). I know Jagr is a bit of a head case but so was Kovalev last year. Trust me, Jagr has as much if not more talent than Kovalev. He would certainly kick start Higgins and Koivu. I know everyone thinks this post (and poster!) is crazy but with Jagr we would stand a good chance of getting past Ottawa and Philly in the playoffs.

    The Original 24 Cups


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