for this game

Kostitsyn helps Canadiens wrap up playoff berth

Mar 25, 2008 - 3:44 AM
By Mark Lidbetter PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MONTREAL (Ticker) -- After being virtually dominated all season by the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens finally turned the tables.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored two first-period goals and defenseman Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist as the Canadiens skated to a 7-5 victory over the Senators on Monday.

Montreal became the first team in the Eastern Conference to clinch a playoff slot with five games remaining in its regular season schedule.

"It's definitely really nice, the guys are really excited," Canadiens left wing Christopher Higgins said. "We can't wait for it (the playoffs) to start; it's going to be a real fun time of year."

Despite its slim lead over Ottawa (41-28-7) for most of the second half of the season, Montreal (43-24-10) has enjoyed little success in its Northeast Division rivalry with the Senators, losing five of the six meetings this season prior to this contest.

"I think we surprised a lot of people right from the beginning, there were a lot of doubts," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "There were a lot of question marks but I think we have been very consistent and, tonight, we faced a team that has given us problems all year.

"But we were (up) 7-1 after two periods and that showed a lot of positives but, at the same time, we kind of showed in the third that if we don't keep our focus, anything can happen."

Monday's win not only gave the Canadiens a seven-point lead in the division race - the largest advantage this season - but it also allowed Montreal to take a three-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings over the Pittsburgh Penguins (43-26-7), who lost to New York Islanders, 4-1, earlier Monday.

"They (the Senators) can pile up points quickly but we're not going to let up any," Higgins said. "We realize we're in the playoffs and that's a very nice feeling but we want to finish first - we want to have home ice. I think the guys are focused towards that goal."

Dany Heatley scored two goals as Ottawa tallied four times in the third period to make the final score respectable.

Kostitsyn opened the scoring just 1:40 into the game. Tomas Plekanec's shot from the right side ricocheted off the end boards and out to Kostitsyn, allowing the left wing to one-time the puck into the open net before Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber could move over to cover the post.

Higgins' second effort on his initial shot made it a two-goal advantage as he poked the puck under a out-of-position Gerber at 13:26 of the opening session.

With Montreal on the power play, Alexei Kovalev controlled the play deep alongside the right boards in the Senators' zone, then sent a pass back to defenseman Mark Streit, who unleashed a wicked drive from the blue line that caught Gerber on the right shoulder.

Gerber was unable to find the puck but Kostitsyn pounced on the rebound and wristed it into the open left side for his 25th tally of the campaign with 96 seconds remaining in the first for a 3-0 lead.

The Senators switched netminders to start the second, sending Ray Emery in to relieve Gerber, but Emery fared no better as Montreal poured in four more goals through the second session.

"It was just a lot of mistakes early on and losing puck battles that resulted in goals," Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. "It was a pretty tough deficit to come back (from) after two periods. We did a lot of good things and scored some goals that we can look at and carry towards tomorrow night (in Buffalo), but it was pretty disappointing on the whole."

After Tom Kostopoulos scored his sixth goal of the season with 46 seconds left in the second for a commanding 7-1 edge, the Senators started making their move in the final period.

Heatley converted from along the left post at 3:04 and, 56 seconds later, Martin Lapointe slid the puck under Montreal rookie netminder Carey Price to make it 7-3.

Heatley wristed one high over Price's right shoulder from about 20 feet out at 9:23 to the deficit to 7-4.

Jason Spezza continued the scoring onslaught with his 32nd tally of the campaign with the man advantage at 18:02 of the third, but the four-goal rally came too late for Ottawa.

"I think the possession game we played at the end - if teams are going to sit back against us - we just have to be patient with the puck," Spezza said. "Get everybody deeper in our end for breakouts and make shorter passes and try to pick up speed going into the other team's end. We have to do that in order to be successful against teams that are going to try to trap us."

Price stopped 31 shots to record his third straight win.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 0 1 4 5
    MONTREAL 3 4 0 7 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - ANDREI KOSTITSYN 24 (TOMAS PLEKANEC, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    1:40
    MON - CHRIS HIGGINS 23 (MAXIM LAPIERRE) 13:26
    MON - (PP) ANDREI KOSTITSYN 25 (MARK STREIT, ALEXEI KOVALEV)
    18:24
    2ND PRD: OTT - ANTOINE VERMETTE 19 (RAND

    Mar 24 10:15 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 5
    MONTREAL 7
    3RD PRD: OTT - (PP) CORY STILLMAN 25 (DANIEL ALFREDSSON) 18:02

    Senators 5, Canadiens 7  3rd - 1:58Mar 24 10:12 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 4
    MONTREAL 7
    3RD PRD: OTT - DANY HEATLEY 39 (MIKE COMMODORE, DANIEL ALFREDSSON)
    9:23

    Senators 4, Canadiens 7  3rd - 10:37Mar 24 9:54 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 3
    MONTREAL 7
    3RD PRD: OTT - MARTIN LAPOINTE 6 (SHEAN DONOVAN) 4:33

    Senators 3, Canadiens 7  3rd - 15:27Mar 24 9:44 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 2
    MONTREAL 7
    3RD PRD: OTT - DANY HEATLEY 38 (DANIEL ALFREDSSON, LUKE RICHARDSON)
    3:04

    Senators 2, Canadiens 7  3rd - 16:56Mar 24 9:41 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 0 1 1
    MONTREAL 3 4 7 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - ANDREI KOSTITSYN 24 (TOMAS PLEKANEC, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    1:40
    MON - CHRIS HIGGINS 23 (MAXIM LAPIERRE) 13:26
    MON - (PP) ANDREI KOSTITSYN 25 (MARK STREIT, ALEXEI KOVALEV)
    18:24
    2ND PRD: OTT - ANTOINE VERM

    Mar 24 9:21 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 1
    MONTREAL 7
    2ND PRD: MON - (SH) TOM KOSTOPOULOS 6 (ANDREI MARKOV) 19:14

    Senators 1, Canadiens 7  2nd - 0:46Mar 24 9:16 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 1
    MONTREAL 6
    2ND PRD: MON - MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI 3 (ANDREI KOSTITSYN) 15:46

    Senators 1, Canadiens 6  2nd - 4:14Mar 24 9:10 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 1
    MONTREAL 5
    2ND PRD: MON - (PP) ANDREI MARKOV 16 (MICHAEL RYDER, ALEXEI KOVALEV)
    15:04

    Senators 1, Canadiens 5  2nd - 4:56Mar 24 9:08 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 1
    MONTREAL 4
    2ND PRD: MON - FRANCIS BOUILLON 2 (BRYAN SMOLINSKI) 11:29

    Senators 1, Canadiens 4  2nd - 8:31Mar 24 9:00 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 1
    MONTREAL 3
    2ND PRD: OTT - ANTOINE VERMETTE 19 (RANDY ROBITAILLE, MARTIN LAPOINTE)
    9:43

    Senators 1, Canadiens 3  2nd - 10:17Mar 24 8:55 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    OTTAWA 0 0
    MONTREAL 3 3 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - ANDREI KOSTITSYN 24 (TOMAS PLEKANEC, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    1:40
    MON - CHRIS HIGGINS 23 (MAXIM LAPIERRE) 13:26
    MON - (PP) ANDREI KOSTITSYN 25 (MARK STREIT, ALEXEI KOVALEV)
    18:24
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST

    Mar 24 8:18 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 0
    MONTREAL 3
    1ST PRD: MON - (PP) ANDREI KOSTITSYN 25 (MARK STREIT, ALEXEI KOVALEV)
    18:24

    Senators 0, Canadiens 3  1st - 1:36Mar 24 8:17 PM
  • 20
    roots
    bigbelly Added 5 roots

    Senators 0, Canadiens 2  1st - 6:17Mar 24 8:05 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 0
    MONTREAL 2
    1ST PRD: MON - CHRIS HIGGINS 23 (MAXIM LAPIERRE) 13:26

    Senators 0, Canadiens 2  1st - 6:34Mar 24 8:02 PM


  • NHL
    OTTAWA 0
    MONTREAL 1
    1ST PRD: MON - ANDREI KOSTITSYN 24 (TOMAS PLEKANEC, ROMAN HAMRLIK)
    1:40

    Senators 0, Canadiens 1  1st - 18:20Mar 24 7:43 PM
  • 15
    roots
    Againigan Added 5 roots

    Senators vs. CanadiensMar 24 1:29 AM
  • 10
    roots
    sensfaninohio Added 5 roots

    Senators vs. CanadiensMar 9 5:06 PM
  • 5
    roots
    Sensfan4eva Added 5 roots

    Senators vs. CanadiensMar 4 8:29 AM