The Montreal Canadiens won their fourth game in a row and maintained their perfect record in overtime this season. The Habs are now 5-0 in the extra frame.
Their opponents tonight, the Islanders, have played six overtime games this season and lost five times. What Habs’ fans may find sobering is the difference in the standings between the two teams is a direct result of their overtime records.
The margin of victory or defeat is just that slim. Welcome to the world of a Jacques Martin coached team.
Tonight it was Roman Hamrlik playing the role of hero. Hamrlik buried a perfect feed from Tomas Plekanec for the overtime winner. Plekanec beat Mark Streit along the boards and then feathered a pass by Bruno Gervais.
Streit was also victimized by Mike Cammalleri with a nifty move as he set up Travis Moen for his goal early in the third period. Glen Metropolit got the other assist.
Metropolit was a surprise starter after reports earlier in the day suggested that he would be scratched due to the flu. Metropolit not only played but tallied two assists. His linemate, Moen had a first period assist to add to his goal. The third player on the line, Max Pacioretty, played just under eight minutes, but was instrumental in setting up the Canadiens’ first goal.
While the third line was shining, Plekanec was being treated to a carousel of mates on the second line. Guillaume Latendresse started on his wing but was dropped to the fourth line after some lacklustre play and a number of giveaways. Andrei Kostitsyn led the team with three hits which was penance enough for Martin to return him to Plekanec’s line.
Jaroslav Halak had a much better start to this game. He made a great save on Matt Moulson early in the first period. Halak was solid when he needed to be throughout.
However, it was Martin Biron who garnered the goaltending attention. Biron had much tougher saves, kept the game close, and tonight replayed the form of the 2008 playoffs when he was with the Flyers.
The Canadiens defense played well with the exception of a few lapses by Hal Gill. Since his arrival in Montreal Marc-Andre Bergeron’s defensive play has alternated between steady and awful. Tonight it was Bergeron-the-good who had a solid game with his partner Paul Mara. Jaroslav Spacek and Hamrlik each played in the neighbourhood of 25 minutes and both had goals.
It was mostly a dull game with inconsistent officiating and lazy play by both teams. The Canadiens took two too-many-men penalties.
The Canadiens power-play was 0-for-2 tonight and the penalty killing units gave up two goals on seven chances by the Islanders.
The Canadiens have won their three previous games with the help of improved special teams and the firepower of the first line. While that wasn’t the case tonight, the support players helped the Habs eke out a victory over a team that they should be able to beat at home.
Gomez, Gionta, Cammalleri
Plekanec, Lapierre, Latendresse
Metropolit, Moen, Pacioretty
Chipchura, D’Agostini, Andrei Kostitsyn
Jaroslav Halak starts in goal for the Canadiens; Martin Biron for the Islanders.
scratches: Laraque, Stewart, Markov (ankle), O’Byrne (knee)
Rocket’s three stars
1. Travis Moen
2. Jeff Tambellini
3. Glen Metropolit
(photo credit: CP)