The up-and-down Habs are up once more. It was a convincing win, but not perhaps the dominant performance the final score suggests. A struggling and disinterested-looking Lightning team played right into the Canadiens hands, giving up a series of odd-man rushes, and for once the Habs were able to capitalize. Both of the Tampa goals were of the cheesy, garbage-picking variety, and both were the direct result of defensive breakdowns.
On such breakdown was the work of Michael Ryder, who left Vaclav Prospal open after unwisely deciding to help Roman Hamrlik hit another Tampa forward. Ryder somehow went -2 on the night and did little offensively to help his cause, so look for him to be watching tomorrow night's game against the Panthers. More tough luck for a player who is truly jinxed this year.
It was a very good night for Saku Koivu, who earned two assists in just under 13:00 minutes of ice-time. The captain seems to have broken out of a bit of slump, but Carbo is being careful not to overwork the veteran. He rested for most of the third in anticipation of tomorrow night's game.
Andrei Kostitsyn, Alex Kovalev, Andrei Markov, Maxim Lapierre, and Guillaume Latendresse scored the Montreal goals. Lapierre got it started, electing to shoot on a 2-on1 with Higgins and making no mistake. Next was Latendresse, picking up the garbage on a goal-mouth flurry by the Habs for his 10th of the season; his critics are getting quieter all the time, lately. Kovalev got lucky on his goal, but it was well-deserved, the high-point of a very strong overall game by the suddenly dependable Habs leader. Also getting his 10th of the year was Andrei Markov - who played fantastic all night - off a power-play blast (sweet pass from Streit after Koivu set the play smartly), and almost immediately after that, Andrei K roofed a Plecanek pass to make it 5-0.
Cristobal Huet was unable to hang on to the shut-out, but he played a very steady, very solid game, making 28 saves and doing a great job preventing rebounds. He continued his heart-stopping puck-handling experiments, but did no damage with them tonight.
I am told that Vincent Lecavalier did play in this game, but I don't believe it. There's better visual evidence for the existence of Sasquatch than for Lecavalier's presence on the ice tonight. Also MIA was Martin St. Louis, whose name was not mentioned once. Then again, the game was being called by Bob Cole, and it is possible that he thinks Martin St. Louis is pronounced "Sun-deen", which is something I did hear him say a few times tonight, for no ascertainable reason. Speaking of Bob Cole, he appears to believe that there is someone on the Habs with the last name "Maxim". Obviously, he means M. Lapierre, but it wouldn't kill him to get something as simple as the players' names right, would it? I mean, he probably knows the middle name of Doug Gilmour's mother. I have a dream ... of a day when my tax dollars do not directly subsidize the ridiculously unprofessional way the CBC/HNIC cabal shoves that fan-club masquerading as a sports-broadcast down our nation's collective throat.
A good win at a good time. Now on to Florida, where you can expect the Habs to have a tough time with a team that has, mysteriously, dominated them ever since it came into existence.