Murray coaches Blues to a surprise road win.

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    Rocket:

    We have all heard the phrase: once the puck is dropped, it’s the players who play the game. There is some truth to that but at the same time, it shouldn’t be used to absolve the coach from his responsibilities. For the second time in less than a week, Guy Carbonneau was thoroughly outcoached. This time, it was Andy Murray who designed a superior game plan and had his team better prepared to play.

    Carbonneau should have spent more time ensuring that his players were ready. Carbo also did not have his best players on the ice tonight. To me, tinkering with the line-up with less than 10 games to play is akin to playing too fancy: something that he has accused certain players of doing recently. Instead, he could have perserved regular lines and focussed his practises on getting ready for the opposition rather than getting-to-know-you sessions.

    Patrice Brisebois looked completely out of place again tonight. I seriously doubt that he would play on any other playoff team. Mark Streit has been a valuable utility player all year but has been struggling on the powerplay for the past few weeks. Once again, after a big first period hit, Guillaume Latendresse disappeared for the rest of the game.

    Jaroslav Halak did not have his best game tonight. I sure hope he didn’t start to believe his own press clippings. Halak will be a solid #2 goalie for this team but let’s not confuse him with the #1. He was giving up big rebounds much of the game. The 3rd goal allowed was rather soft and may have been the turning point of the game. At times, he looked rattled. However, Halak did make some big saves at crucial times, but the damage was already done.

    From a positive perspective, Saku Koivu, Michael Ryder and Chris Higgins looked really good together on the powerplay and late in the game on a regular shift. Mikhail Grabovski and Sergei Kostitsyn have chemistry and had a great 3rd period. They needed a comparable linemate tonight.

    St. Louis executed Murray’s game plan rather well. They outhit the Canadiens, blocked shots and worked hard to beat the Habs to the puck all game long. The Canadiens forwards should have been able to exploit the Blues defense with their speed but did not with consistency until the third period. An early lead for the Canadiens would have sparked the crowd and demoralized a tired Blues club.

    Pregame:

    People are still buzzing about the $39,000 bill for the Blues rookie dinner on Sunday night at Rosalie’s, a restaurant near the Bell Centre. Splitting the bill were rookies Erik Johnson, Yan Stasny (native of Quebec City) and David Perron (native of Sherbrooke).

    St. Louis Blues have lost 10 consecutive road games.

    1st period:

    KPK line starts the game…finally! Hmmm..maybe Carbonneau does read “All Habs” afterall. (see my pet peeve from last game’s article)

    2 solid hits by Komisarek to start the game. Good save by Halak but a big rebound.

    Grabovski with speed to Sergei K who is dragged down in the slot. No call.

    Goal by Ryder called back. Koivu called for pick play..2 minutes for interference.

    Plekanec with hand off his stick grabs a Blue..2 minutes for holding.

    St Louis with a 5 on 3 PP. Erik Johnson scores with a big shot from the point. Halak may have been screened by Tkachuk. St Louis leads 1-0.

    Brisebois doesn’t look good. He was outmuscled for the puck and later outskated for the puck in the Habs end on the same shift.

    Big hit on Grabovski in Blues end. Garbovski tracks down the puck behind his own goal and heads the other way. Higgins and Sergei K with good work behind the Blues goal. Higgins scores. Game is tied 1-1.

    Offensive pressure by Habs. Two good shifts. KPK line as well as Higgins and Grabovski.

    Komisarek penalty. On St Louis PP Kariya to McDonald who splits defense and goes in alone. Good save by Halak.

    Latendresse solid hit on Jackman.

    Pressure by KPK line. Andrei K draws a penalty. Habs PP: Koivu, Ryder, Higgins with some great chances.

    Period ends.St Louis outshot Montreal 11-6.

    2nd period:

    Habs begin period on powerplay. Streit is struggling tonight. Blues are blocking everything.

    After penalty kill, Blues start hitting. Grabovski is run over by Backes. Brisebois is pasted to the glass.

    Halak makes a good save but another juicy rebound.

    St Louis with a 2 on 1. Perron all alone. Halak with great shoulder save.

    Blues called for too many men. Koivu, Higgins and Ryder look good again on PP. Koivu goal. Habs lead 2-1.

    McDonald right side with speed and a quick shot. Very soft goal by Halak. Game tied 2-2. (47 seconds after Montreal goal)

    Tkachuk shot beats Halak but rings off the post. It seems that Halak is unnerved.

    Woywitka off for slashing. Habs to the PP. Oh no…Brisebois on the PP!
    Big rebound by Halak. Then, Halak caught out of his net. Blues fire wide.
    Kariya no-look pass to Boyes who scores. Blues lead 3-2. First goal tonight that Halak had no chance.

    After two periods, St Louis is outshooting Montreal 21-14.

    3rd period:

    Great work behind net by Ryder and gets the puck out to Koivu. Koivu great pass to Latendresse in the slot. He fans twice.

    Big pressure by KP & Smo line draws penalty. Brewer off for highsticking. Ryder, Higgins and Koivu look good again.

    Sergei K great cross ice pass to Grabovski who buries it top corner. Big celebration…these guys are excited! Game tied 3-3.

    Koivu, Ryder and Higgins play together 5 on 5 for the first time in the game.

    Grabovski great shot trickles out of Legace’s glove. Grabs and Sergei K are on fire.

    Grabovski with speed drives past McKee, is hauled down and draws penalty.

    Montreal outshot St Louis 13-4 in the third period.

    Overtime:

    Grabovski with a long shift and good chances.

    Halak makes a big save on McDonald with help from Markov.

    With 25 seconds remaining, Grabovski wins a big faceoff (his first of the night) in the defensive zone to help preserve the tie.

    Shootout:

    Perron, Boyes and Kariya for St Louis. Koivu, Andrei K and Kovalev for Montreal. (should Carbo substitute a hot Grabovski for Andrei??)

    Boyes scores the only goal of the shootout.

    St Louis wins 4-3.

    Rocket’s 3 stars:

    1. Brad Boyes
    2. Chris Higgins
    3. Andy McDonald

    honorable mentions: Ryder, Sergei K. and Grabovski.
    (photo credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)