Canadiens edge Blue Jackets to halt skidFeb 19, 2007 - 4:23 AM
Michael Ryder and Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist apiece and rookie goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in his NHL debut as the Canadiens edged the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2, to snap a six-game losing streak.
Montreal had the look of a desperate team, having scored just nine goals in its recent skid and having learned on Saturday that starting goaltender Cristobal Huet requires surgery to repair an injured left hamstring.
The Canadiens broke out of their offensive doldrums by scoring three goals in an 8:19 span of the second period and riding the strong netminding of Halak, who was called up from Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Friday.
"We really needed these two points, our confidence has been pretty low over the last couple of weeks," Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "We needed to come in here and have a good effort and not worry about how the team is playing we are trying to work our way out of it.
"It was important to stop the bleeding. I know it has been a while since we won a game."
Ryder scored on the power play just 18 seconds into the middle session before setting up Koivu less than six minutes later. Koivu ended an 11-game goalless drought with just his second tally in 24 games.
"I think the last couple of games we have played a lot better and we knew if we stuck with the game plan things would turn around sooner or later we were going to get the win and we got it tonight," Koivu said.
The Canadiens built the lead to 3-0 with another power-play goal as Francis Bouillon's long wrister from just inside the blue line skipped past Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire.
That put the game in the hands of Halak, who had 21 saves through the first two periods.
"He played very well. It is always fun to see," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "You never know how these guys will react when it's their first time. The best thing was that he was able to control his rebounds. We were looking for a good performance and he gave it to us.
"Tonight, there were a few occasions with a lack of communication between the defense and him. Overall, I was satisfied."
The Blue Jackets made a game of it in the third, scoring twice in 3:03 to slide the deficit to 3-2. Nikolai Zherdev recorded his first goal since January 6, spoiling Halak's shutout bid with 11:55 to play.
Gilbert Brule beat Halak with 8:52 left, but the 21-year-old netminder from the Czech Republic weathered a power play soon thereafter and made a couple of big saves during a flurry in front of the net with a minute remaining.
"It was a great win for us, we needed the two points," Halak said. "I did get a little lucky but we were able to get some early goals and that made it a little easier. A couple of the players helped me before the game so I wasn't nervous.
"I was confident throughout the game but after they scored those two goals I felt a little shaky. I won the game and that's all that matters. It would have been nice to get the shutout but we needed two points so the win is more important."
Leclaire made 25 saves for Columbus in falling to 6-15-2 on the season.
"We made a couple of mistakes and boom-boom-boom, in the first 10 minutes of the second period," Leclaire said. "We tried to come back, but the kid (Halak) in his first game made some good saves. We ran out of time. We have to play 60 minutes especially when we play desperate teams like Montreal."
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
--- --- --- -----
MONTREAL 0 3 0 3
COLUMBUS 0 0 2 2 FINAL
1ST PRD: NONE
2ND PRD: MON - (PP) MICHAEL RYDER 17 (SAKU KOIVU, SHELDON SOURAY)
MON - SAKU KOIVU 17 (MICHAEL RYDER, CHRIS HIGGINS) 6:02
MON - (PP) FRANCIS BOUILLON 3 (UNASSISTED) 8:37
3RD PRD: COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 8 (AL
Feb 18 8:35 PM
3RD PRD: COB - GILBERT BRULE 6 (SERGEI FEDOROV, DAN FRITSCHE) 11:08
Canadiens vs. Blue JacketsFeb 18 8:18 PM
3RD PRD: COB - NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 8 (ALEXANDER SVITOV, RON HAINSEY) 8:05
Canadiens vs. Blue JacketsFeb 18 8:12 PM
0 3 --3
Columbus 0 0 --0
FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: None. Penalties: J Shelley, Cob (hooking), 3:36; M
Komisarek, Mon (tripping), 5:59; R Klesla, Cob (tripping), 11:38; S
Samsonov, Mon (hooking), 12:35; J Chimera, Cob (charging), 19:04.
SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Montreal, Michael Ryder 17 (power play)
Feb 18 7:42 PM
2ND PRD: MON - (PP) FRANCIS BOUILLON 3 (UNASSISTED) 8:37
Canadiens vs. Blue JacketsFeb 18 7:21 PM
2ND PRD: MON - SAKU KOIVU 17 (MICHAEL RYDER, CHRIS HIGGINS) 6:02
Canadiens vs. Blue JacketsFeb 18 7:16 PM
2ND PRD: MON - (PP) MICHAEL RYDER 17 (SAKU KOIVU, SHELDON SOURAY) 0:18
Canadiens vs. Blue JacketsFeb 18 7:05 PM
END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
--- --- --- -----
MONTREAL 0 0
COLUMBUS 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
1ST PRD: NONE
SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
--- --- --- -----
MON 9 9
COB 11 11
GOALIES: MON - JAROSLAV HALAK
COB - PASCAL LECLAIRE
Feb 18 6:46 PM
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