Kovalev leads Habs to victory over Islanders 3-0

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    Rocket:

    This was a win for the Canadiens over a team that they expected to beat. DiPietro did his best to steal the game for the Islanders but patience, a powerplay goal and Alex Kovalev led the Habs to victory. This was a quiet shutout for Jaroslav Halak who was solid when he needed to be.

    The Canadiens two best lines were the KPK line and the Smolinski line. Not coincidentally, they were the two lines left intact by Carbonneau. Seems that Carbo’s grand experiment was not paying dividends on this night.

    Good solo efforts by Kostopoulos, Ryder, and Higgins. Latendresse delivered a solid hit at the beginning of the game and got a goal at the end but was essentially MIA for the other 58 minutes of action. Kosto and Hamrlik dished out several good hits each.

    Allow me to air a pet peeve. It really puzzles me when Carbonneau doesn’t start the game with his #1 line (and it is something that he does often). Tonight, he sent out the 4th line to open the game. I can understand when Carbo deploys his checking line to begin a game on the road, but not at home.

    Isn’t it important to have a good first shift by your best to set the tone of the period? What about the intimidation factor for the other team? Scotty certainly knew something about that, and exploited it. I would submit that sending out the team’s top line sends a message that the Canadiens will be dictating the tempo and style of play in their own building. To a lesser extent, it would seem that starting the #1 line engages the fans quicker.

    It’s a curious strategy by Carbonneau. I would be interested in his explanation.

    Pregame:

    A tribute to Ken Reardon who passed away today a few weeks short of his 87th birthday. Reardon was a proud Canadien, a Stanley Cup champion, a member of the HHOF, and a decorated WWII hero. Reardon was a rugged defenseman not blessed with much skill but a huge heart. He was affectionately called a “bull in a china shop” by Dick Irvine Jr.

    1st period:

    Halak makes a nice save on Comrie. Good start.

    DiPietro has been busy and looks very good early.

    During the stoppage of play, it’s music from “The Departed”. The Dropkick Murphies remind me to wish you all a Happy and safe St.Patrick’s Day!

    Komisarek seems in a snarly mood. After a Halak save, MK mixes it up with Guerin.

    Latendresse hit (yes, Lats!) springs Koivu and Ryder on 2 on 1. Saku can’t get the pass to Ryder.

    Markov to Grabovski on the rush. Both are very smooth skaters.

    With Regier off for interference, Canadiens have their first powerplay. PP doesn’t look good and is now has just 3 goals in its last 25 chances.

    Kostopoulos in alone. Nice save by DiPietro.

    Sergei K to Grabowski in the slot. His vision is blocked by an Islanders stick in his face. No call.

    Play is quite scrambly in the first period. New lines are not impressing. Islanders outshot Canadiens 10-8.

    2nd period:

    Kostopoulos dragged down. No call. Kosto has it again and rolls a puck behind DiPietro through the crease but not in.

    Islanders too many men penalty. On the Habs PP, Streit shoots from point, big rebound is buried by Hamrlik sneaking in (a designed play, normally executed by Markov). Canadiens lead 1-0. Good work in front by Higgins to provide the screen.

    Ryder nice work to get it back to the point. Quick pass to Latendresse. Good save by Dipietro.

    Grabovski with determination to the net. Another good save by DiPietro.

    Offensive outburst by Canadiens. Sounds of Ole, Ole song breaks out in the Bell Centre.

    Higgins to Grabovski in the slot. DiPietro is keeping the Islanders in this game. Halak looks lonely.

    Kovalev looks frustrated after taking a shot when he could have set up a wide open Andrei K.

    Komisarek giveaway creates a chance Islanders. Komisarek recovers to block shot. Halak woke up.

    Stretch pass from Kovalev to Plekanec. From his knees, a perfect pass to Andrei K in alone. Good save DiPietro.

    Kovalev against the grain a great pass to Koivu who hits the post.

    Canadiens penalty on Markov for tripping. Islanders powerplay. Higgins and Sergei K on the PK.

    Shots in favour of the Canadiens 14-8. Kovalev has really stepped it up this period! Ryder having a good game.

    3rd period:

    Point shot tipped by Satan. Good save by Halak.

    Quick wrist shot by Higgins rings off the post.

    Nice clear by Andrei K creates 2 on 1 with speed. Plekanec to Kovalev who scores up top. Canadiens lead 2-0.

    Grabovski makes a good play in the defensive zone.

    Bouillon great pass to Higgins who just misses the one-timer.

    Interference penalty by Sergei K. Islanders PP is ineffective.

    Another big hit by Hamrlik this period.

    Nice feed by Grabovski sends Higgins in all alone. Good save by DiPietro.

    Tambellini to Park. Great save by Halak (his first big save of the game)

    Bad line change by Islanders leaves Latendresse all alone. Koivu finds him with a great cross-ice pass. Latendresse scores. Habs lead 3-0.

    Third period shots favored the Islanders who outshot Canadiens 30-29 overall.

    Rocket’s 3 stars:

    1. Alex Kovalev
    2. Rick DiPietro
    3. Jaroslav Halak

    (photo credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ian Barrett)