Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers

If I was having any trouble sleeping at nights this was the very game that would have solved that problem for me quick like. What a snoozer!

What else can be said about a game that set a Montreal Canadiens record for least amount of shots taken in a game by both teams (28), was a game between Montreal and Philadelphia that featured only one fight and no memorable bodychecks and both teams played the trap which does not lead to much excitement. I guess we can all be happy that the Habs did triumph (3-1), but it certainly wasn't one of the more memorable games you will ever see.

The fact that it was a boring game was a shock. Montreal versus Philadelphia has brought some classic confrontations through the years. Montreal was coming off and emotional and dominating 5-1 win over the Boston Bruins. Philadelphia, who had started the season very strong with a 12-5 record, had hit the skids lately, so much so that their coach John Stevens was fired and Peter Laviolette had been installed as the new head coach. Most of the time when a team makes a coaching change the players play really hard (at least initially) because they want to make an impression on the new guy. It did not work out that way.

Though there were no shots during the first couple of minutes by either side the game seemed like it had some potential. A mere 2:45 into the game heavyweights Georges Laraque and Riley Cote dropped their gloves for a fight. Laraque was the winner by decision. Instead of amping up their teammates the fight seemed to put a damper on things. It took until just past the 6 minute mark of the 1st period for the first shot of the game (a rather dubious shot as it was a deflection by Max Pacioretty that seemed to miss the net, but who am I to say?) by either side. Both teams were tentative and playing the trap so that did not lead to much offence.

While Montreal's first shot was a wide of the net deflection Philadelphia was more successful with their first shot. After blocking a shot by Paul Mara (he took too long to get it off), Daniel Briere raced off on a partial breakaway and with Ryan O'Byrne draped all over him (the ref's arm was up for a penalty call) Briere somehow managed to get enough on a shot as he was falling to get it up and over Carey Price's glove hand. Just like that Philadelphia had one shot in 7:28 and one goal. Great percentage! At the end of the 1st period that saw a piddling total of 5 shots on goal (Philadelphia – 4, Montreal – 1) Philadelphia had a 1-0 lead.

To make matters even worse Josh Georges' defence partner Paul Mara left the game in the 1st period with what the Canadiens are saying is an upper body injury (no indication from the team how serious an injury it is). Thankfully they had dressed 7 defencemen with Marc-André Bergeron playing wing on the fourth line and so he took over Mara's spot as Georges' defence partner.

Despite this added offence from the point it took 20 minutes for the Canadiens to register their second shot. On the bright side, the shot found the back of the net. A rejuvenated Tomas Plekanec flipped a puck out from behind the net and somehow Andrei Kostitsyn was able to bat it out of midair with the resulting knuckleball shot fooling Flyers' goalie, Brian Boucher.

After the goal the Canadiens played some more inspired hockey and were able to get some shots on a shaky Boucher. Just under eight minutes later a relegated to the 4th line, Maxime Lapierre sped off on a 2-on-1 with Mike Cammalleri. Lapierre had had a similar situation earlier in the game only to have his attempt at a pass blocked, but he did not make the same mistake twice. After Flyers defenceman Braydon Coburn decided to go down to block a potential pass/shot, Lapierre toe-dragged the puck around him and then passed it to a wide open Cammalleri who does not make mistakes when given opportunities like that. He found the open side and just like that it was 2-1 Habs.

The tight, or as I like to call it "uninspired", play continued until the 11:05 mark of the 3rd period when Bergeron iced the game for the Canadiens with a power play goal on a blast from the point that never left the ice, but caught the inside of the far post to go in. Assists on the goal were given to Plekanec and Roman Hamrlik.

Carey Price, who is used to stopping 30-odd shots per game, had a fairly easy outing with only 15 shots being directed at him. He was greatly helped out by his teammates who blocked a ton of shots in front of him. Number one on this list was the game's first star, Roman Hamrlik. Hamrlik blocked 10 shots and was a warrior on defence. He and partner Jaroslav Spacek have become quite a pair as they are rarely out of position and really support each other well. Two wily veterans! They will make an excellent number two pairing behind Andrei Markov (when he comes back in January? February?) and whomever he plays with.

While it wasn't a game that anyone will put into their memory banks it was a victory and the 9th placed Montreal Canadiens will take a win of any type in this tightly packed Eastern Conference. Especially against another Eastern Division team and an old rival.

The Habs do not have much time to revel in their 2 game winning streak as they play on back-to-back nights with the second game being in Ottawa versus the Senators.

Game Stats:
-On-Ice Officials: Referees: Mike Leggo and Dan O'Rourke
Linesmen: Tim Nowak and Steve Barton
-Goals: 1st Period:
7:28 – Philadelphia – Daniel Briere unassisted
2nd Period:
6:20 – Montreal – Andrei Kostitsyn assisted by Tomas Plekanec and Roman Hamrlik
14:04 – Montreal – Mike Cammalleri assisted by Georges Laraque and Maxim Lapierre
3rd Period:
11:05 – Montreal – (pp) Marc-André Bergeron assisted by Tomas Plekanec and Roman Hamrlik
-Shots on Goal: Montreal: 13
Philadelphia: 15
-3 Stars: 1) Roman Hamrlik – Montreal
2) Tomas Plekanec – Montreal
3) Daniel Briere – Philadelphia
-Attendance: 21,273
-Final Score: Montreal: 3
Philadelphia: 1

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