Habs win in shootout

Saku Koivu said he sometimes improvises when he takes a penalty
shot, but he stuck to the script last night to produce the Canadiens’
3-2 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

"You look at how
the goaltender is playing, whether he comes out high and look at the
ice conditions and you decide what you’re going to do," Koivu said.
"Sometimes, you change your shot, but tonight, I stuck with it all the
way."

The result was a backhander that beat Cam Ward for the only
goal in the shootout. Carey Price ensured the victory with stops on
Matt Cullen and Eric Staal, while Ray Whitney missed a chance to match
Koivu’s goal when he put the third and final Carolina shot over the
net.

The shootout capped an improbable win for the Canadiens who were outshot – and outplayed – during most of the game.

Boone: About last night …

Game summary

Stats

The Canadiens bunched their scoring into a 4:07 span late in the first period.

Alex
Kovalev erased a 1-0 Carolina lead when he intercepted a pass at the
blue line and went in alone on Ward, while Alex Tanguay scored his
team-high sixth goal on a penalty shot at 19:49.

But the
penalty shot merely underlined the Canadiens’ largest failure in this
game – and for the season. Tanguay got the freebie when Dennis
Seidenberg was penalized for closing his hand on the puck in the crease
while the Canadiens were enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage.

"The ice
was bad and I just wanted to make sure I got the shot off," said
Tanguay, who picked the top corner on Ward’s blocker side.

Tanguay acknowledged that the Canadiens haven’t been playing their best hockey, but he took that as a good sign.

"We’re
6-1-1 to start the season and we know we can play better," Tanguay
said. "The last three games haven’t been that great, but we got two
wins."

The Canadiens went 0-for-7 on the power play and hardly
look like the team that has led the NHL in power-play efficiency in
each of the past two seasons.

Montreal’s best chances with the man advantage came on a

4-on-3 power play late in the overtime. They launched five shots, but Ward made a couple of spectacular saves.

The Canadiens got off to a one of their patented slow starts. They were being outshot 7-0

after
Anton Babchuk scored on a power play at 11:04 of the first period.
Guillaume Latendresse took the Canadiens’ first shot on goal at 11:26.

But Guy Carbonneau took

exception to a suggestion the Canadiens should be grateful to escape with two points.

"Except
for the first 10 minutes of the first period, I thought it was a pretty
even game," he said. "Look at how many empty nets we missed."

The
Canadiens could have made things a lot easier on themselves if
Latendresse and Robert Lang hadn’t missed empty nets or if they had
clicked on the power play.

As it was, they did end Carolina’s
run of victories at the Bell Centre. The Hurricanes had won nine
consecutive games here since the lockout. The streak included six
regular-season games and three games in the second round of the 2006
playoffs.

The Habs won the first two games of that series in
Carolina, but the Hurricanes rallied to win the series in six games and
went on to win the Stanley Cup. Ward had his personal seven-game win
streak here snapped.

The game marked the first time the
Canadiens had their full lineup healthy, but that may not have lasted.
Defenceman Roman Hamrlik took a shot off the foot in the third period
and left the game. There was no immediate word on his condition.

The
game wrapped up a five-game homestand for the Habs, who went 4-1. They
hit the road tomorrow night when they play the Wild in Minnesota.

Gazette Stars: 1.Saku Koivu; 2. Eric Staal; 3. Carey Price.

 

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