After missing a full year following a second knee injury on November 13, 2010, Andrei Markov made his much awaited and anxious season debut with the Canadiens. Markov’s last goal in the Habs uniform was scored on November 9, 2010 against these very same Canucks in a 2-0 victory at the Bell Center. Markov was paired with his countryman, the hard hitting, Alexei Emelin. While the Russian rearguard was making his return to the lineup, Montreal was without the services of their top Center David Desharnais, out with a minor upper body injury.
The game went through many different twists with both teams controlling the play at one time or another. While Vancouver outshot the Habs 15-5 in the first frame, some shoddy goaltending by Roberto Luongo and a lack of discipline reversed the tides in the third period, when the Canadiens outshout the home team 18-11 scoring three times.
Vancouver started the game strong and didn’t let the Canadiens settle down. Montreal’s second shot-on-net only came in the 17th minute of play when Lars Eller, who along with Erik Cole who had six shots-on-goal, wristed a 60 footer towards Luongo. Eller, playing a strong game for the Canadiens, had two golden chances to beat Luongo but failed to put the puck in the net.
Markov displayed a few signs of rust and was caught on a few occasions. David Booth shot the puck wide on a partial breakaway after Markov was caught on one of those occasions. Both teams kept skating well as Montreal finally was able to match Vancouver’s rhythm. End to end rushed forced both goalies to stay sharp and make good saves.
Ryan Kesler finally solved Carey Price with a wrist shot on the stick side. Markov was once again at the origin of the goal after he was caught chasing and went after Booth who passed the puck to a streaking Kesler on the right hand side. Rene Bourque almost got that one back when his shot hit the crossbar a couple of minutes later.
With 1:17 left in the second frame, some good fore-checking by Louis Leblanc resulted in the tying goal. Leblanc took the puck away from Alexander Edler and passed it through the legs of Kevin Bieksa to Blake Geoffrion who just had to redirect it in the net. It was Geoffrion’s first goal in Montreal’s jersey after being acquired from Nashville in the Hal Gill trade.
Montreal carried the momentum into the third period and just 13 seconds into the period, Erik Cole beat Luongo with a weak backhander that somehow sneaked through the Montreal native. Vancouver offered a great opportunity to the Habs taking two back-t-back delay-of-the-game penalties handing Montreal a 44 second two-man advantage. Montreal controlled the puck well forcing Luongo to make several good saves. With only one second remaining on the two-man advantage, PK Subban blasted a touch pass from Markov making it 3-1. Montreal continued to control the play well and Pacioretty had some great opportunities while his team was still on a power play but was unable to capitalize.
With roughly nine minutes remaining, a crushing hit by Emelin on Kesler in the defensive zone, allowed Cole to have a 2 on 1 rush. Luongo managed to make the stop but failed to control the rebound and Cole who smartly followed up his own shot, pushed the rebound in the net to make it 4-1 for the visiting team. That goal was the final nail in the coffin and Montreal went on to win their second game on this Western trip. The Habs visit the surging Buffalo Sabres on Monday night before returning home to face the Senators in a home-to-home series.
HiD Three Stars
- Carey Price
- Erik Cole
- P.K. Subban
HiD Turning Point
Cole’sweak backhander that sneaked through Luongo putting his team ahead permanently.