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King Kovalev lifts Habs over Sens

  • What a difference 1 player can make.

    Alex Kovalev returned from knee surgery just in time to take on the Ottawa Senators. Kovalev had a night to remember scoring his 300th career NHL goal and his 700th career point in lifting the Canadiens to a 4-3 shoot out victory.

    The Canadiens trailed the Senators 3-0 despite outplaying them for most of the game. Sheldon Souray’s glasses were still at Lens Crafters when he left the puck behind the net for Jason Spezza who easily wrapped it into the gaping cage. At that point it looked like it was going to be ‘one of those games’. You don’t spot a team like Ottawa such trashy goals.

    Claude Julien was forced to really juggle his line combinations. Due to injuries or due to poor performance? Probably both. There were several strange first time line combos such as Ryder, Sundstrom and Begin, and they worked. The Canadiens out hustled the Sens for the most part and only fell down 3-0 due to a stream of 1 sided penalties. Then the Kovalev show began.

    Kovalev collected his 700th career point after stepping right through the Ottawa defense and firing a shot that rebounded straight to Sundstrom. 3-1. But team’s just don’t go down 3-0 to Ottawa and expect to win. Only 1 time this year has a team beaten Ottawa after they score first.

    Who else could score another and make the game interesting? His initials are M.R and no it wasn’t Mario Roberge. Michael Ryder ripped a shot over a bumbling Hasek after taking one of Andrei Markov’s tape to tape laser passes. 3-2.

    It seemed to stun Ottawa a bit and the Habs were all over them. Kovalev seemed to be triple shifted all night and there he was again behind the net as he drew a 4 minute high sticking penalty after a gash on the nose from Ottawa’s Meszaros. Markov found Kovalev near the face off dot and his pass was dead on, Kovalev ripped a wrister to the top corner that few other if any player could have made. 3-3.

    Cristobal Huet played well enough when he needed to and got a couple lucky posts that haven’t been going our way lately. Brining the 3-3 game to a shoot out.

    Cristobal Huet vs Dominik Hasek? Cristobal Huet in his second game back after 2 years. Against the highest scoring team in the league? Hmm.

    Well Huet did the job and stopped Dany Heatley’s attempt to go 5 hole. Send in the Canadiens secret weapon, Pierre Dagenais. For some reason he’s got the shoot out down, he beat Hasek easily and after Daniel Alfredsson made a rare error and missed the net, it was up to Kovalev.

    Kovalev ripped another laser shot into the same spot as Dagenais. Game over. Habs come back from a 3-0 defecit to beat the Senators. Game of the year. Overall Hasek looked fairly ordinary in the shootout. Perhaps Pierre Dagenais should have taken the 1998 Olympic penalty shot against Hasek instead of Brendan Shannahan.

    Efforts like that one lead you to believe the Canadiens can contend with any team in the league. They proved they can, but 1 game is just that, 1 game. It’s time to get consistent. With Kovalev in the lineup it appears they are much closer to being able to do that. I doubted that Kovalev was that big an impact, when he went down the Canadiens were on a winning streak and most assumed they’d miss him but still contend. Kovalev’s impact on the team really is substantial and he’s proving he’s worthy of every penny.

  1. First off, what a game that was last night. Finally we pick up two points off those Senators…those extremely talented, “slumping” Senators. For obvious reasons Kovalev is receiving a lot of attention for his return effort. His knee looked great to me. Unfortunately every Canadiens game I watch reinforces my belief that Jan Bulis is utterly useless out there. Why are we paying this guy over a million a year? We’re paying him that much because he actually 30 and 40 point seasons the last two years the NHL was in session. Apparently his skills were in a pair of suitcases that were lost on his way back from the Czech Republic this fall. I guess it would be tough to unload a guy playing as well as Bulis so we’ll just keep sticking him on the first line. Anyways, enough of my whining since the Habs just came back from 3-0 deficit to Ottawa no less.

  2. #2 hab fan hogan says:
    December 22, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    It was great to see Kovalev back and in action. I think his knee will hold up for another four years like his last surgery. The habs looked great at times against the Sens and at times a little unsure of themselves like they do in many games they play in there division. These games they play against division rivals is what will decide if Montreal can make the playoffs this year or not. The habs have all the tools they need to make a good regular season run this year and end up in fourth or fith in the confernce, second in there divison (behind the Senators of course). Montreal needs to stay consistent and show that they can play every night and not just on occasion. If montreal plays with heart and there uptempo I’ll beat you in the corner style of hockey they have a good chance this year and will most defentily make the playoffs,and this time not at the bottom. And last I would just like to say that Montreal needs to sign Ryder, he is and will be one of the top players in the N.H.L. for years to come. ( a four or six year deal is what I think the habs should be looking for)

  3. #3 TXHabsFan says:
    December 22, 2005 at 8:21 pm

    Marc:

    In case you did not notice we only actually picked up 1 point on the Sens the other night. But we picked up 2 points on Toronto which is more important. Go figure.

    We basically got teased with that up tempo, spirited Habs game in the first 4 weeks of the season. The last 4 weeks without the likes of Kovalev and Koivu have been nothing but brutal. Got to admit down 3-0 the other night wasn’t looking too good. Patience was paid in full!

    Before I start bad mouthing Bulis I want the Olympics to end. He could team up with those other Checks and well really be a spolier. My hope is that he comes out of the Olympics and earns his paycheck.

    I am a little worried about Begin. Seems he has developed quite a reputation for the nasty, if not cheap, hit and the refs are watching. Almost everytime he hammers someone they find cause for a penalty.

    Finally, everone in the US seems bummed out that Crosby is not on Team Canada. I am tired of him already. Particularly after his insightful comments after Coach Eddie was fired ” It was time for a change”? And he has barely been in the league long enough to have a cup of coffee. Time for a change, give me a break. From my vantage point in Texas, I would much rather have Spezza than Crosby. But I would gladly trade Foote for McCabe even if he is a Make-Believe.

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