You knew it had to happen sooner or later that the Bulldogs would lose their first game in regulation time, but for the 14,702 in attendance at the Bell Centre you would have to think that no one wanted it to happen on this particular night.
This season the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs will play two home games at the Bell Centre. One happened this past Friday night (with the second coming February 21, 2010 versus the Adirondack Phantoms) and many in the good sized crowd were there to see the enigma that is Sergei Kostitsyn. Every time he touched the puck or even got on the ice there was a reaction that went up from the crowd. The reaction was predominantly cheers, but there were also a smattering of boos to be heard. It seems as if the Montreal hockey fans have not written this guy off despite his best efforts to estrange them.
The bad boy (off the ice only) was sent down to the Bulldogs from the Montreal Canadiens during training camp after spending all last season with the big team. He did not handle the demotion well – to say the least. Refusing to report, demanding a trade, walking away from the Bulldogs, suspended twice, talking to General Manager Bob Gainey, then finally returning to the team has been what he has done away from the ice.
On the ice, when he has played, Kostitsyn has contributed 2 goals and 4 assists in 8 games. On this night playing on a line with Ben Maxwell and Ryan Russell he was fairly invisible with no shots on goal. The one shot he attempted went wide of the net. You would have thought with Bob Gainey and coach Jacques Martin in attendance he would have put more effort into it to try and make an impression. Kostitsyn did not play like a guy who is dying to get back into the NHL.
Sergei Kostitsyn was not the only Bulldog who did not have a good game. Missing players like Mathieu Carle, Tom Pyatt and Ryan White seemed to have an effect on the team. It makes sense as Carle is one of their top defencemen, Pyatt is the number one centre and White is the number two. For the first 30 minutes of this contest (which saw them down 2-0 by the 8th minute of the 2nd) they were not clicking. Outshot and outhustled by the lower down in the standings Binghamton team, Hamilton only woke up for the last 30 minutes of the contest and proceeded to outshoot the Senators by a wide 22-6 margin, but due to the brilliance of goaltender Mike Brodeur they were only able to get one goal by him in the 3rd period.
Besides being outshot in the 1st period the Hamilton team gave Binghamton a prolonged 5-on-3 opportunity when Eric Neilson (holding) and defenceman Chad Anderson (cross-checking) got almost back-to-back penalties. Hamilton goaltender Curtis Sanford made several good stops, but could do nothing after stopping rebound attempts by Martin St. Pierre when the puck found Ryan Keller johnny on the spot who put it into a gaping net.
Hamilton also gave Binghamton their second goal when Jason Bailey stripped the puck off Hamilton defenceman Yanick Weber then put it five-hole on a seemingly stunned Sanford in the 8th minute of the 2nd period.
The second Binghamton goal seemed to wake up the sleeping Bulldogs and they took over the game from that point on. Unfortunately for them they ran into a very hot goaltender in Mike Brodeur. He stop everything they threw at him except for a P.K. Subban (his 1st goal in the AHL) blast from the point on a Bulldog powerplay at 8:39 of the 3rd period. The power play let the Bulldogs down a bit with them only managing 1 goal in 8 chances.
That was all the scoring in this game, though Subban almost knotted it up 5.7 seconds remaining on the clock by crashing the net, but again Brodeur was somehow able to keep the puck from crossing the line.
-On-Ice Officials: Referee: Terry Koharski
Linesmen: Jameel Chaudry and Rich Patry
-Goals: 1st Period
15:59 – Binghamton – (pp) Ryan Keller assisted by Denis Hamel and Martin St. Pierre
8:02 – Binghamton – Jason Bailey assisted by Tomas Kudelka and Geoff Kinrade
8:39 – Hamilton – (pp) P.K. Subban assisted by Shawn Belle
-Shots on Goal: Hamilton: 37
-3 Stars: 1) Mike Brodeur – Binghamton
2) Ryan Keller – binghamton
3) P.K. Subban – Hamilton
-Final Score: Hamilton: 1