Canadiens 5, Maple Leafs 4
Monday, February 26, 2007
Centre Bell, Montréal, Québec
The Montréal Canadiens’ potent power-play unit scored enough to hold off Toronto’s comeback bid.
Sheldon Souray had his team-leading 22nd goal and Montréal got three goals with the man advantage in a 5-4 victory over the Maple Leafs on Monday night.
Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder assisted on each other’s power-play scores, Tomas Plekanec and Mike Johnson scored at even strength, and David Aebischer made 32 saves to help the Canadiens move up to seventh in the Eastern Conference with 72 points.
Montréal went 3-for-4 on the power play, improving its conference-leading success rate to 23.2 per cent.
“We didn’t waste any of them, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “They’re an offensive team, they’re a team that attacks and we knew that despite being down three going into the third they were going to come back hard and they managed to get a couple. But we settled things down in the last 10 minutes and tried to limit their quality chances.”
Bates Battaglia, Bryan McCabe, Jeremy Williams and Alex Steen scored for Toronto, which remained 10th in the conference. The Maple Leafs have 69 points, one behind the ninth-place New York Islanders and two behind defending champion Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“Our first period wasn’t very good and our second wasn’t any better,” Steen said. “We came out jumping in the third period. We had a couple of good chances in the first couple of shifts and then got a quick goal. We were trying to battle back but if you don’t play a full 60 minutes, it’s going to cost you.”
Alex Kovalev assisted on Plekanec’s first-period goal as he returned to the Canadiens’ lineup after missing seven games because of an elbow injury.
Toronto’s Andrew Raycroft stopped 11 of 16 shots before leaving 12:24 into the second after Souray drove a slap shot past him into the top of the net off a faceoff as Montréal scored its third power-play goal just 2 seconds into its third opportunity to take a 5-2 lead.
“I didn’t think I was horrible out there, I just couldn’t find a way to get in front of enough of them,” Raycroft said.
Souray’s 22 goals – 16 on the power play – are the most by an NHL defenceman since Sergei Gonchar scored 26 for Washington in 2001-02.
Jean-Sébastien Aubin replaced Raycroft and the Maple Leafs fought back to close within one on goals by Williams and Steen early in the third.
Battaglia gave Toronto a brief 1-0 lead with his 11th goal 4:10 in.
Kovalev, who had been sidelined since February 10, when he was benched for most of the third period of a 5-3 loss to Ottawa, set up Plekanec’s tying goal at 5:48. The Czech centre danced off to the left corner and banged his hands against the glass in celebration after he beat Raycroft with a shot from the edge of the crease.
Ryder temporarily drew even with Souray for the team lead in goals when he put the Canadiens up 2-1 with his 21st as he drove a slap shot past Raycroft for his 13th power-play goal.
Johnson made it 3-1 lead late in the period with his 10th goal at 19:10.
McCabe scored his 11th goal 1:32 into the second as Toronto took advantage of Steve Bégin’s interference penalty at the end of the first to pull to 3-2.
Koivu, who has been battling the flu, made the Canadiens 2-for-2 on the power play when he finished off a play with linemates Chris Higgins and Ryder to restore Montréal’s two-goal lead.
“It’s been pretty tough for the last couple of days,” Koivu said. “I’m just trying to get some liquids in and hope it’s going to be over in the next couple of days.”
Raycroft made a spectacular glove save to deny Kovalev at 12:21 while a penalty was being called on Hal Gill for cross-checking. Raycroft’s outing came to a sudden end just 3 seconds after the ensuing faceoff when Souray drove a shot past him from the right point to increase the lead to 5-2.
NOTES: Aubin stopped all eight shots he faced…Newly acquired Canadiens D Josh Gorges will join the team Tuesday. Gorges was acquired along with San Jose’s first-round pick in 2007 on Sunday in a trade that sent Craig Rivet and Montréal’s fifth-round pick in 2007 to the Sharks…The Canadiens assigned RW Andrei Kostitsyn to Hamilton of the AHL earlier in the day.
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TOR GOAL – 04:10 – Battaglia (Pohl, Gill)
MTL GOAL – 05:48 – Plekanec (Kovalev)
MTL PEN – 07:41 – Murray, tripping
TOR PEN – 13:58 – Wozniewski, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 14:12 – Ryder (Koivu, Markov)
MTL GOAL – 19:10 – Johnson (Bonk)
MTL PEN – 20:00 – Bégin, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 01:32 – McCabe (Sundin, Kaberle)
TOR PEN – 09:03 – O’Neill, roughing
MTL PP GOAL – 10:02 – Koivu (Higgins, Ryder)
TOR PEN – 12:21 – Gill, cross checking
MTL PP GOAL – 12:24 – Souray
MTL PEN – 15:05 – Perezhogin, interference
TOR GOAL – 01:02 – Williams (Battaglia, Sundin)
TOR GOAL – 04:40 – Steen (McCabe)
MTL PEN – 09:48 – Komisarek, interference
TOR PEN – 11:48 – Ponikarovsky, interference
MTL – Aebischer (W, 32-36)
TOR – Raycroft (L, 11-16), Aubin (8-8)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 11+8+5 = 24
TOR – 6+16+14 = 36
MTL – Goaltenders: David Aebischer, Jaroslav Halak. Defence: Francis Bouillon, Mathieu Dandenault, Mike Komisarek, Andrei Markov, Sheldon Souray (A), Mark Streit. Forwards: Steve Bégin, Radek Bonk, Christopher Higgins, Mike Johnson, Saku Koivu (C), Alex Kovalev (A), Guillaume Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre, Garth Murray, Alexander Perezhogin, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Ryder.
TOR – Goaltenders: Jean-Sébastien Aubin, Andrew Raycroft. Defence: Wade Belak, Carlo Colaiacovo, Hal Gill, Tomas Kaberle (A), Bryan McCabe (A), Ian White, Andrew Wozniewski. Forwards: Nikolai Antropov, Bates Battaglia, Travis Green, Chad Kilger, Jeff O’Neill, John Pohl, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Alexander Steen, Mats Sundin (C), Jeremy Williams.
MTL – 33-26-6 (.554)
TOR – 30-24-9 (.548)
⭐ Saku Koivu (MTL)
⭐⭐ Andrei Markov (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Bates Battaglia (TOR)