After a hard practice yesterday the Habs went back to work facing the Los Angeles Kings who came to town for a rare visit. The game began with a good first shift by Scott Gomez, Travis Moen and Michael Cammalleri but they were unable to get a shot to pose a real threat. L.A. got their first opportunity when P.K. Subban tripped along the boards in his own zone turning the puck over leading to a point shot. Carey Price made the save to stop the play. On the next faceoff the Kings took another point shot which Price stopped with traffic in front. The Habs decided to send a quick message as they reacted to the Kings net crashing creating a brief skirmish. A little later L.A. missed a great scoring opportunity when Wayne Simmonds attempted a cross ice pass that was blocked by Alexendre Picard’s stick. The puck rolled towards Price and he managed to stop it while being off balanced. Montreal also missed an opportunity when Brian Gionta made a nice pass to Andrei Kostitsyn while standing in the slot. Kostitsyn attempted to one time it but fanned on the pass.
The Habs kept pressing with their relentless attack. Maxim Lapierre took a shot on Bernier creating a rebound that the Kings cleared. On the same shift Tom Pyatt and Lapierre came in on a 2 on 1 where Pyatt decided to shoot it just missing the top corner hitting the mesh on the outside of the net.
At 8:53 Jack Johnson took a holding penalty giving the Habs their first power play of the game. On the power play L.A. had the first quality chance when they were stopped by Subban breaking up a 2 on 1 attack. Montreal got their turn shortly thereafter and skated the other way on a 2 on 1 of their own where Kostitsyn beat Jonathan Bernier five hole to give his team the lead. The goal ignited the Habs and King's netminder Bernier had to be sharp as he saw a variety of scoring chances come his way. First it was a tip by Mathieu Darche from a Subban shot, followed by Tomas Plekanec who prevented a clearing attempt and took a shot, and finally Benoit Pouliot taking a shot off of a Picard rebound. Things finally slowed down for Bernier when he managed to cover the puck in his crease after Moen tried to feed Gomez in the slot.
At 16:50 Plekanec and Dustin Brown received offsetting minors while battling for the puck in the Montreal zone. On the 4 on 4 the Habs went to work and broke into the kings zone. The play started with Cammalleri dishing a pass to Gomez who simply returned the favour. With Gomez heading to the front of the net, Cammalleri and Roman Hamrlik had a give and go where Cammalleri eventually shot it to give the Habs a two goal cushion. The goal was originally credited to Gomez but it was later corrected when it was determined that the puck deflected off of Drew Doughty. After the goal the teams played mostly in the neutral zone to end the period.
L.A. came out a more determined team to start the second, as their early pressure led to Hal Gill taking an interference penalty. Near the end of the power play Alec Martinez scored his first NHL goal and coincidently his first NHL point when he pounced on a loose puck beating Price. The puck found its way to Martinez after it hit Ryan Smyth off of a Justin Williams point shot. Price pled his cause to the referee that he was interfered with by Smyth but the goal was not reviewed.
It only took 1:19 for the Habs to respond, as Kostitsyn burst into the Kings zone shooting the puck. Bernier made the save but gave up a rebound where Gionta jumped on it and fed it to Plekanec who blasted it past Bernier. After the goal the Habs were buzzing as they forced Bernier to make multiple saves on Gionta, Plekanec and Lapierre. With Montreal continuing to apply pressure, Cammalleri skated near Smyth, where Smyth shoved him into the boards. Smyth received a holding call on the play. Montreal did not score with the extra man but came real close when Cammalleri deflected a Picard shot and hit the post. Jarret Stoll then tried to reply for his team when he took a good shot on Price creating a rebound but none of his teammates were there.
Montreal went to the attack again when Lapierre broke into the zone where he was stopped by Martinez. This was followed by some real close calls for the Habs. First Lars Eller found the puck and slid it towards the slot but failed to connect with a teammate. The puck then made its way around the boards towards Pouliot who was standing next to the net. With Bernier down Pouliot failed to find the puck between his legs. The puck then found its way to Gionta who took a one timer from the blue line which was stopped. Following the flurry L.A. tried to fight back leading to another Montreal penalty. The Kings were unable to score with the man advantage this time around keeping the score 3- 1 for Montreal.
The successful kill energized the Habs as they went back on the attack. While being crushed into the boards Cammalleri found Moen who went for the wrap around. This was followed by a great pass by Kostitsyn from behind the net to Jeff Halpern who was then robbed by Bernier. On the same shift Halpern took another shot, this time stopped by Martinez. At 18:07, Eller gave his team a 4-1 lead scoring his first goal as a Montreal Canadien. The goal was created from a Picard rocket shot that hit the post that made its way towards Eller, who made no mistake in burying it. Eller was then seen with the biggest smile on his face while wearing the Habs jersey. Montreal controlled most of the play in the second period outshooting the Kings 15 to 7.
The Kings attempted to duplicate their early second period success as they attacked the Habs for the first minute of the period. After defending their zone Darche found the newly energized Eller cutting in front of the Kings net. Eller took a backhand shot at high speed but Bernier was ready. Pyatt then took a crack at Bernier where he was stopped as well. At 5:27, Smyth got tangled up with Price again after battling with Jaroslav spacek. This time around he was called for goalie interference giving the Habs their third opportunity of the game. Montreal was unable to get a goal on this power play with Bernier making quality saves on Kostitsyn, Gionta and Spacek. Shortly after the power play Eller showed us more of his skills. After taking a pass from Spacek and drawing Bernier to him, Eller made a nifty backhand pass in the slot towards Hamrlik who missed his chance. Had Hamrlik connected the score would have been 5-1 as he had a wide open net.
With so many close calls the Kings started to respond and forced Price to get in the game. First Price stopped Kyle Clifford point blank and then he stopped a point shot from Doughty followed by a stop on Brown in close. At 12:09, the Kings pressure led to Gill taking an interference penalty. The Habs easily killed off this power play and continued to kill time off the clock in the process. With about five minutes to play price made his most spectacular save of the night when he robbed Clifford in close. The play was created by a cross ice pass by Smyth, forcing Price to slide and stretch to make the save. Smyth then complained to the referee that the puck was loose behind Price but as we all know the play is dead once the referee loses sight of the puck. Price then held his ground for the rest of the Kings pressure, while Montreal regained control for the last minute and a half of the period. Next stop, Atlanta!
HiD Three Stars
- Andrei Kostitsyn
- Lars Eller
- Michael Cammalleri
HiD Turning Point
Montreal's quick response to the Kings only goal of the game.