Michael Ryder got the scoring started at 10:42 of the first on a really nifty play ending with an easy tuck-in. Guillaume Latendresse was coming down the right side and sent a very nice centering pass to Ryder in the low slot. Cam Ward was expecting the shot from Latendresse and had overcommitted to the right post. The net was essentially wide open for Ryder to tuck it in. Saku Koivu got a secondary assist on the even strength goal.
At 16:24, Erik Cole knotted the score by working really hard to stuff his own rebound in. He took a Glen Wesley pass inside the left circle, settled the puck and fired a wrist shot on net. Huet answered the bell, but gave up a fat rebound in front of the net rather than to the corner. Cole found the rebound in the low slot and fired it through a forest of legs.
No other scoring in the first, nor any penalties of note. Actually, there were very few penalties in the entire game. A grand total of seven.
Cole put the Canes ahead at 8:23 of the second. Again it was a huge rebound given up by Huet. Scott Walker left a drop pass for Cole in the top of the right circle. He one-timed one from there that Huet stopped but sent the rebound out front. Cole picked up the loose change and fired it past Huet again. Walker got the first assist and Bret Hedican got the second.
Seven minutes later, Tomas Plekanec tied it at two. He sent a slap shot from the top of the right circle that beat Ward. Sergei Samsanov and
Erik Cole laid a crushing hit on Bouillon behind the Montréal net late in the second as he was trying to finish off a hat trick. The third goal never came, and the hit was just barely off camera in the FSN South feed, but I could see the lining up and hear the crowd's reaction.
12:27 into the third, Viva scored what would prove to be the game winner. After Carolina had squandered a short five-on-three and the normal power play that followed. Afraid that the big kill would give Montréal momentum, coach Laviolette called his time out to neutralize that. Moments later, the Canes were on a mini-break and Justin Williams found the back of the net with a really sweet backhand shot that stunned Huet. He never even saw it. Credit Ray "The Wizard" Whitney and Rod Brind'Amour with the assists.
Just 50 seconds later, Eric Belanger fired a howitzer of a snap-wrister from the left faceoff dot, beating Huet high on the stick side. Chad "Sharpie" LaRose got the only assist.
One thing worth noting is that Saku Koivu saved a sure goal late in the third. Huet was way out of position, and Whitney almost had a chance to stuff a strange end board bounce into the vacated net. Koivu, however, detected this, and got his stick down and against the left post to prevent it. A very nice play, and a good night for the Habs captain, even in loss. He almost made my stars of the game.
The FSN South crew gave the three stars to Bret Hedican (third), Viva (second) and Erik Cole (first).
The "official" three stars went to Viva (third), Ray Whitney (second) and Cole.
I have it a tiny bit differently. The RBH three stars of the game:
Third Star Christobal Huet, MON. 44 saves
Second Star Justin Williams, CAR. Game winning goal
First Star Erik Cole, CAR. 2 goals, 11 SOG.
Before embarking on their annual beginning of December Western Conference swing, the Canes have one last home game. Saturday against the Bs. No television, but I'll be there.