Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Kids Are Alright: Habs embarrass Pens 5-3


They didn’t score any goals, but the fourth line call-ups for the Montreal Canadiens fit in just nicely, as they helped their team defeat the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Saturday afternoon.

The line of David Desharnais, Brock Trotter and Ryan White, called up Friday from the Hamilton Bulldogs, logged an average of ten minuts of ice time against what seemed to be an underachieving Pittsburgh team. The Penguins had beaten Montreal with a combined score of 12-4 in their last two victorious meetings.

With injuries mounting up yet again for the Canadiens, and a group of youngsters on the fourth line, the veterans needed to step up. They did just that, with three-point games from Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.

Montreal opened the scoring when Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was tripped up by Mathieu Darche behind the goal, leaving an open net for Plekanec at 29 seconds.


Fleury argued that there should have been a penalty on the play. It was picked up between periods, on Hockey Night in Canada, referee Steve Kozari admitted to Penguins coach Dan Bylsma that they just didn’t see it that way.

The Penguins replied, 33 seconds later, when Pascal Dupuis jumped on a Jaraoslav Halak rebound to tie the game at one.

At 9:38 of the second period, shortly after a third consecutive and successful Canadiens penalty kill, Gionta raced in on a breakaway, beating Fleury to put the Canadiens back in the lead.


Scott Gomez added a power play goal for Montreal just 43 seconds later. Veteran Bill Guerin put in a weak shot past Halak, with 6:03 left in the second period, to keep his team within one.

In the third, Trotter came very close to scoring his first career NHL goal on a shot that went under Fleury and off the goal post.

Darche’s shot moments later at 7:15 was more accurate, putting the Canadiens ahead by two and chasing Fleury from the game. Gionta added his second goal of the afternoon three and a half minutes later.

imageThe Penguins number one netminder was then pulled by Blysma for Brent Johnson, as he will will likely start Sunday against Washington, weather permitting.

Fleury didn’t take it well though, slamming his stick against the tunnel wall leading to the Penguins dressing room.

Things got a little rough as White and Guerin mixed things up for five-minute majors, with the veteran getting an instigator call and a ten-minute misconduct. White could get further charges of elder abuse, details to come.


Virtually unheard from all afternoon, Penguins All-Star Evgeni Malkin made it interesting. After serving an instigating minor to Brooks Orpik, and his team still shorthanded, the Russian star broke form the penalty box for a breakaway to beat Halak.

With 3:16 to play and killing off a disastrous 5-on-3 power play for the Canadiens, the defending champs still had time to make this a game.

Malkin however, felt otherwise as he took a foolish roughing minor is response to a tap from the Canadiens Roman Hamrlik, killing his team’s chances for the comeback.

The Canadiens have now won three straight and get right back into it Sunday afternoon against the Boston Bruins.

It was a relatively easy night for Halak, who faced just 21 pucks from the Penguins after back-to-back 45-save appearances.

Three Stars: 1. Brian Gionta 2. Mathieu Darche 3. David Desharnais

How good were they?:

Ryan White 9:50 TOI (57 seconds on the penalty kill) 5 PIM, 4 hits (most by a Canadiens player)

David Desharnais: 11:41 TOI (3:06 on the PP), +1 Just one shot on goal, but had three that were blocked.

Brock Trotter: 11:07 TOI (2:13 on the PP), 5 shots (led both teams) and drew penalties

“It was unbelievable playing here in Montreal for the first time,” Trotter said. “All year we created some offense in Hamilton, we tried to do what we’re good at. We didn’t get one ourselves, but I think we created some offense for the team.”

“They brought a lot of energy”, said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “They played hard, and they were rewarded.”

Pouliot on IR: It looks like the Hamilton call-ups could be around a bit longer as Canadiens forward Benoit Pouliot has been put on short-term IR by the Canadiens. In twenty games since being acquired from the Wild, he has 11 goals and 3 assists. Pouliot would not be eligible to return until Friday’s game against Philadelphia.

Weber sent down: The Canadiens have sent back defenceman Yannick Weber to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Game photos: Graham Hughes (AP/The Canadian Press)

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