Game 74: Koivu salvages solid effort by Habs

Canadiens captain Saku Koivu celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime against the  Lightning Thursday night. John Kenney, The Gazette 

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AUDIO:  Bob Gainey  Saku Koivu  Alex Kovalev  Andrei Markov

The Canadiens don’t make anything easy on themselves this season and Thursday night was another glaring example of that. They managed to blow a two-goal third period lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning before eventually winning 3-2 in overtime.

With only 19 shots on net in regulation, it was a game the Lightning were never really in except for a few lucky bounces in the final 10 minutes of the game that allowed them to draw even and force extra time.

Saku Koivu scored the winner in overtime, his 15th goal of the season, allowing the Canadiens to maintain their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 85 points, two more than the Florida Panthers. The Panthers also won on Thursday, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. The New York Rangers picked up a point in an overtime loss to the Thrashers and now have 87 points in seventh place.

After recording five goals and 11 points on Tuesday night, the Canadiens top line of Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay continued their hot play, scoring a goal and missing several other excellent scoring chances.
Kovalev, with his 20th goal of the season, blasted a one-timer by Karri Ramo after accepting an excellent pass from Tanguay. Mathieu Schneider collected the second assist on the goal, his ninth power-play point since joining the Canadiens.

Guillaume Latendresse, who has been playing well since returning from a shoulder injury, made it 2-0 when he scored his 12th of the season when he won a foot race for a puck against a Tampa defender, went around the net and beat Ramo, who was out of position after coming out too far from his net.

The Lightning’s plumbers got their first goal when David Koci poked a loose puck past Carey Price 10:26 into the third period after a scramble on the goal mouth.

Lukas Krajicek tied the game 2-2 when his shot went off of Scheider and floated past Price, who had only seen 16 shots at that point, 14:43 into the third period.

The Canadiens went 1-for-8 on the power play, which was the difference in this one. The Lightning had only one power-play opportunity and came up empty.

Next up for the Canadiens is the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

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