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.


  1. 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


  2. 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

  3. habfan53 says:

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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. nightmare_49 says:

    I must be Chuck’s echo.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Alirio says:

    Streit gets moved to forward again…

    I’ve made a huge mistake…

  11. JF says:

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

  12. The Teacher says:

    Hell, no.

  13. 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…

  14. 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!”

  15. Xtrahabsfan says:

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

  16. idle says:

    Well said Ian

  17. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Would you give Huet 5 mil a year?

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