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Lights out as Habs drop home opener to Tampa Bay

Carey Price deserved much, much better last night as the Montreal Canadiens fell 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Habs were up 4-3 with about a minute to go when PK Subban went to the penalty box. Tampa Bay then scored a controversial power play goal, as Dustin Boyd was tripped by Ryan Malone in front of the referee and no call was made. The goal was scored in the moment following the trip.

The Canadiens showed good pressure in overtime, but faded as Tampa Bay continued to press. Price appeared to have the puck under his glove with less than a minute to go but it came free, and with 51 seconds left Ryan Malone scored the winner.

Price was phenomenal the entire game, facing 47 shots and turning away 43. This loss in no way rests on him. Indeed, in a theme familiar to last season, the Canadiens were horribly outshot, 47-27, and missed on many of the scoring chances they did manage to generate. Andrei Kostitsyn provided the Canadiens best play of the game mid-third when he rushed back to the Habs zone, laid a body check on Vincent Lecavalier to turn the puck over, and rushed up the ice resulting in his scoring a beautiful goal off a Tomas Plekanec pass.

Other highlights for the Habs included great puck work by Lars Elle, and strong physical play from Benoit Pouliot. The Pouliot-Scott Gomez- Brian Gionta trio has yet to start firing on all cylinders, and Pouliot missed many chances, but credit where it is due, as he kept working in the corners and playing hard. PK Subban continued to dazzle with rush after rush and was also strong in his physical play.

An ugly lowlight? Max Lapierre’s hit from behind on Steve Downie in the second period. Lapierre received a five minute major for boarding, and while I don’t think he’ll get a call from the league, these hits have to stop. Furthermore, for Lapierre, if he continues to goad players into dropping their gloves when he does not drop his own, along with hitting people from behind, word is going to circulate around the league, and that is not a good thing. Lapierre scored a goal in the first period and is off to a good start this season; however, he needs to rein in his energy and exert self control. He has the potential to be a very effective pest, a la Darcy Tucker, but he needs to put more energy into scoring goals and less into cheap-shotting the opposition. Let’s see of he can focus on his game and become the impact pest that he has the potential to be.

Montreal has tomorrow off before heading to Buffalo to face the Sabres on Friday night. The Habs face Ottawa Saturday, so its likely Alex Auld will see his first action as a Hab in one of these two games.

Also of note, Andrei Markov is expected back before the end of October, likely on or around October 25th, according to the Team 990’s Tony Marinaro.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: andrei+markov, benoit+pouliot, carey+price

Comments

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I think Lapierre already has a bit of a reputation around the league. That memo was circulated a while ago.

I agree with you in that I don’t believe he’ll receive a call from the League regarding this hit. It’s wasn’t pretty, but I don’t think it warrants a suspension. At worse a fine, but not a suspension.

He also needs to drop his gloves and fight. Him laughing at the end of the hit when half of the Lightning were converging around him looks terrible. At least Tucker wouldn’t have backed away from a fight in a similar situation. I’m afraid someone is going to clean Lapierre’s clock if he doesn’t show more respect and professionalism on the ice. And that could get ugly if it happens.

Price did look good, but so did the francophones on the Lightning. Lecavalier, St. Louis and Gagne played well, and always seem to show up when games are played in Montreal.

Posted by Briney on 10/14/10 at 11:24 AM ET

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just wanted to point out that was not a trip you can clearly see if you look at the replay that there sticks got tangled up and the other gut just lost his balance and fell.

Posted by TBL FAN on 10/14/10 at 02:45 PM ET

german_wing's avatar

kudos to rpice. that was an awesome performance considering the fact that this was the habs’ home opener. if that ain’t pressure, then nothing is.

hope he can keep that up most of the season.
if not, the alternative called auld is very suspect. at least, when you want him to start probably more than 20 games and, conveniently, winning at least half of them.

still thinking the habs should reach out for greiss. he’d be a huuuge upgrade over auld and, at least in theory, someone who pushes price more.

i know carey needs a lot of confidence shown in him in order to perform nicely, and giving him a backup who’s not as good as he is by a long shot is just that. so that’s a good situation for price - but what about the whole team? as soon as price’s not playing, they need a miracle out of auld on probably more nights than not. that’d make me nervous ...

Posted by german_wing from Toronto, Canada on 10/14/10 at 06:00 PM ET

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Briney: You’re right on Lapierre. Pierre McGuire made some public comments to this effect last season, and Lapierre was clearly miffed. Word is getting around the league, and he needs to clean up his act.

As for Francophones in Montreal, you’re right, they often do well - especially the TB guys. That’s not going to change, so the Habs need to be especially prepared for these games. It almost felt as if they let this one get away. That can’t happen very often if they want to make the playoffs.

TBL Fan: I wrote this piece after the game, and from the angles I saw on the replay, it looked like he was tripped (and that was certainly the consensus of the announcer and analyst). I think more than anything, in a game where a variety of questionable penalties were called,  people expected a play like that to get a whistle. I was surprised it didn’t, but the right call was made.

german wing:  I agree with your comments on Mr. Price. It’s clear that the season is on his shoulders. Auld isn’t a suitable substitute, and if Price falters any chance of the playoffs for the Habs is in serious doubt.

Pierre Gauthier and his management team clearly felt Price’s need for confidence outweighed the need for a stronger backup. I get the impression the team is behind Price and believes he is as talented as Habs management makes him out to be (i.e. Gainey’s references to Price as a thoroughbred). Various players have made supportive comments, and surely Gauthier and Martin must had an idea of how the team felt before making the Halak move and then signing Auld.

All that said, if Price does fail, and Auld falters, that’s on Gauthier. And it’ll be messy.

Thanks for the questions/comments. Always appreciated.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 10/14/10 at 11:00 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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