Habs win over Sens puts McGuires Kovalev idea on the shelf
So earlier in the week hockey analyst Pierre McGuire floated the idea that Otttawa Senators winger Alex Kovalev might be an answer to the Montreal Canadiens top-six forward problems.
We all remeber AK27, right? The sometimes brilliant, but other times a puck hog, and one dimensional player who only showed up every other game.
Back in November, fans at the Bell Centre saw the positive side of the enigmatic forward, when he potted two goals against his former team. Tuesday night they saw the opposite from a man that managed just two shots and had two blocked on the night.
The funny thing about McGuire's suggestion was that is was strictly on Montreal radio. During the TSN broadcast, he didn't even mention it, as he rarely had any time to talk about Kovalev.
As for the game itself, a 3-1 victory for the Habs giving them three straight wins with rookie P.K. Subban in the press box. It was also a game where those wishing to see Scott Gomez in the press box may have got more than they wished for.
Overall, the game was not exactly what you would call one for the memories, but in Jacques Martin's system it wold be a keeper.
The Canadiens played aggressively on their forechecking, and the forwards also worked together with the defensemen to shut down the Senators offense.Tomas Plekanec dominated the faceoff cirlce, going 20-6 on the night.
The visiting team was limited to just six shots in the first period and 28 on the night.
A low shot total like makes life simple for Carey Price, who had a relatively easier night than most. The Canadiens netminder had to handle just a few shots in close for the second straight game. The only blemish came off a beautifully set up play by Jason Spezza onto the stick of Nick Foligno.
As the Canadiens must have learned from Saturday's meeting with the San Jose Sharks, playing an aggressive checking game can lead to turnovers. The first three Montreal goals were an exact result of that as all three tallies came as a result of the Senators coughing up the puck.
Mike Camalleri opened the scoring on the power play, stripping the puck from Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and firing in his own rebound over the shoulder of Pascal LeClaire.
The Habs play with the man advantage was virtually invisible form that point on. Much of that had to do with the absence of Scott Gomez, who left the game, early in the second period, with a lower body injury.
Gomez's departure led to an opportunity for Lars Eller to get some time on the power play. Despite a strong effort by the rookie to keep the puck contained in the offensive zone, the Canadiens were unable to cash in on a 5-minute boarding major to Chris Neil. Nor could they later take advantage of a 4-minute high sticking major, which was eventually cut short due to an Alexandre Picard tripping call.
The Montreal power play finished the night going 1-for-5. Whether or not the absence of Subban and Gomez is a crucial loss to the power play unit will naturally be debated over the next while, but at one point the Bell Centre crowd was chanting "P.K.,P.K." And no, it wasn't Ottawa fans cheering on their penalty killing unit.
With Gomez out for the rest of the night, Martin was forced to do some line juggling. It paid off in the third period, when Jeff Halpern broke in on another Sens giveaway, and patiently waited to get LeClaire out of position, for what proved to be the wining goal.
A Senators failure to contain the puck at the offensive blueline resulted in another odd-man rush, This time captain Brian Gionta used Andrei Kostitsyn as a decoy before firing it past LeClaire.
LeClaire briefly left the ice during third period to attend to a broken skate, and was replaced by Brian Elliot. Just a note that this is the second time this season, against the Canadiens, that a Senators goalie has had to leave the ice for skate repairs.
Elliott's night lasted all of two shots, when Gionta's initial volley deflected off his glove and helmet and was batted out of mid-air by Roman Hamrllik. The goal was the veteran's second in two games, and extended his point-scoring streak to four.
The Canadiens next face the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on the road Friday and Saturday.
The next questions facing the Canadiens will be how long Scott Gomez is out and will P.K. Subban sit another game? The former obviously is in the hands of the Habs medical staff, which will then lead to seeing some line changes or a possible call up. As for the latter question, with the team riding a three-game winning streak and Yannick Weber playing consistently for time being, you have to think that Martin will stick to the same pairings on the blueline.
Game reaction from the Sens camp from Silver Seven