Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A royal butt kicking

I didn't mind them in gold... just not that much gold

As a Hab fan, you've got to love having RDS.

Firstly, they show every Canadiens game live. Secondly, they repeat the game--in an hour-long condensed version--about an hour after the game ends. This means that on nights like tonight I get to see the game, even though I missed the game. And watching the replay has benefits over watching it live: in order to make the game fit an hour format, they cut out all of the boring parts.

Not that there were many boring parts in tonight's game; it featured two very evenly matched teams that are built on speed and great goaltending. But tonight, one team did most things better than the other.

After the Kings held the early edge in the game with tough, hard forechecking, the Habs got their skates under them and did pretty much everything that they didn't do over the last 40 minutes of their last game against Philadelphia: skate hard, go to the net, and make smart decisions both with and without the puck.

Price makes a spectacular lunging save to foil a Kings' 2-on-1. Photo:Allen McInnis/The Gazette

Halfway through the first period, Andrei Kostitsyn used his quick-release wrist shot, one of the best in the league, to beat Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier for the 1-0 lead. Scott Gomez went to the net with 2 1/2 minutes left in the period and was rewarded with his fourth goal to make it 2-0 after one period. ***Scoring Change: Mike Cammalleri was credited with the second goal, a one-timer from the deep slot.

In the second period, just under 2 minutes in, the Kings Alec Martinez scored his first of the season on the powerplay, though it wasn't without some controversy. After making the initial save, Carey Price was prevented from moving across the crease by a King to make the second save. The replay showed that there was a good case for a goaltender interference call, but instead it was a 2-1 game.

Showing their tenaciousness, the Habs answered right back with a Tomas Plekanec goal to make it 3-1, then with 2 minutes left in the period Lars Eller scored his first as a Hab when he picked up a rebound in the slot from a shot off the near post, then spun around to slide the puck in along the ice on the far side to beat Bernier and make it 4-1. Close checking and a willingness to take the puck to the King's zone prevented a third-period comeback to round out a very satisfying win.

Final shots were 33 for the Habs, and 25 for the Kings. Brian Gionta led the way with seven of them, while Roman Hamrlik played a very solid 23:31 to lead the way in ice time for the Canadiens.

Carey Price? Just another day at the office. 24 saves on 25 shots, and considering the play that led to the Kings only goal, it could have just as easily been his 5th shutout of the season and a GAA of under 2. As it is, after 21 games he's tied his win total from last year with 13, has 4 shutouts, a GAA of 2.00 and a SV% of .933. 

Their next game is in Atlanta on Friday night, in a week that sees them having to travel before each of their 4 games. Crazy schedule.

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