Tampa Bay Vs. Montreal: It's All About Martin St. Louis

Tampa Bay Vs. Montreal: It's All About Martin St. Louis
Montreal Wins In A Shootout 3-2

Whats Being Talked About Around The Bell Centre?

It was the Habs first game of 3 in 4 nights. They quickly left for New York after the end of the game, which marked the 56th year anniversary of Red Fisher covering the Montreal Canadiens. He now works for the Montreal Gazette and still attends every game.

The Radio Telethon for Kids kicked off tonight with the likes of Guy Lafleur and Rick Green fielding calls. It’s the second edition and it’s run by the Montreal Canadiens Children’s foundation.

Tonight’s game also marked the first game as a Hab for Nigel Dawes and the first NHL game for Aaron Palushaj. Dawes wore 34 and Palushaj 51. Notable Habs that wore 34 were Peter Popovic and the late Sergei Zholtok. While notable Habs that wore 51 were Francis Bouillon and Andrei Kovalenko who will always go down as the player who scored the final goal at the Forum.

As my colleague Jason Peitroniro pointed out in his game day blog, tonight was Roman Hamrlik’s 1300 game. It happened to be against the team that drafted him first overall. I still remember the look on all the Ottawa Senators brass that night when Tampa Bay announced Roman’s name. They had made it clear that Roman would fit the whole Senator theme. They were stuck with Alexei Yashin. I wonder if the teams had to do it over again who would have been drafted first.

One notable difference at the Bell Centre tonight was the large red pads added to each turnbuckle between and at the end of the benches. For the first five minutes my eyes couldn’t get away from them but then I totally forgot. It reminded me of the whole net behind the end boards. Here to stay!

Guy Boucher behind the bench reminded everyone of his ties that bind. We all know the great job he did with Hamilton and we can see his hard work with the new Habs of this year but he was also sporting his McGill tie reminding us of his alumni status.

The starting goaltenders were the 41 year old Dwayne Roloson and the 23 year old Carey Price. Pause for thought!

The Game Itself

Two Lightning players tried in vain to remind Gauthier of what he might have been missing. Dominic Moore and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored some key goals in last years playoff run but were deemed surplus assets by the Canadiens hierarchy. Tonight wasn’t a great night for them but both have made their mark in Tampa Bay.

As Habs correspondent Steph D noted earlier, nine regulars were out of the lineup tonight and someone had to replace Plekanec’s over 20 minutes of ice time. That ended up being David Desharnais who logged over 18 minutes. Sidenote - Even without the nine regulars in the lineup, Montreal’s power play and penalty kill are both ranked 7th in the league.

The game spotlight shown brightest on Martin St. Louis. Easily the best player for both teams, he was at the centre of most of the key action of the night. It was St. Louis’ effort and one mistake on Tampa Bay’s power plays that lead to 3 out of the 4 goals scored on the night.

The first period began with the normal feeling out period for both teams. There wasn’t really any flow and most of the play was in the neutral zones. Palushaj’s first shift was marked with a giveaway in his own zone leading to a Bergeron point shot saved by Price. After the penalty kill for Tampa Bay on Simon Gagne’s hooking call the tide turned and most of the rest of the period was played in front of Roloson. Roloson flashed his stick to make one of the best saves of the season to keep the Habs off the scoreboard. Benoit Brunet on RDS after taking a deep breath “bon reflex Mr. Roloson”. The other bright light in the period was St. Louis who time and time again was showed off his speed trying to set up Stamkos or Lecavalier. The end of the period was marred by a shoving match between Vincent and P.K. in front of Carey. Vincent took a healthy stick swing at P.K.’s hip and was tossed from the game. Replays showed the slash but left me wondering if Subban had made a meal of it. And for the first time that I can remember, the fans at the Bell Centre were booing Vincent. At the end of the first period the game was tied and Hamrlik was on the ice for over 9 minutes while Dawes got over a minute and half.

The second period started with a 4 on 3 for Tampa Bay as a result of the Lecavalier Subban incident and Gomez’s earlier penalty. Martin St. Louis put his first stamp on the game with a point shot directly from the centre of the blue line. Price gave up a rebound and Teddy Purcell was johnny on the spot and scored the first goal of the evening. Price should have dealt with the rebound a little better. Teddy Purcell from Newfoundland scored his 17 from St. Louis and Gagne. The game resumed with Montreal on an extended power play due to Vincent’s major. Palushaj and Dawes got power play time reminding everyone of Gomez’s stuggles. But not until Ryan White created havoc could Desharnais slip one across the net for Kostitsyn to score. Andrei scored his 18 from Desharnais and White while Sergei, little bro, scored his 18th for Nashville at almost the exact same time. Andrei now has 40 points for the season. Both teams settled down after the Habs goal. St. Louis continued to create for Stamkos all though out the period but Price had his number. Conversely Gomez and Gionta were no where to be found. The second period ended on a whimper nothing like the first. The score was tied 1-1 and both teams had 20 shots on net.

The third period saw the game start with one less official as Johnny Murray stayed in the change room nursing a cold. Murray returned later again making me wonder why we have 4 officials in the first place but that’s for another blog. Palushaj missed a glorious chance to score his first goal attempting a redirect from Weber’s perfect slap pass. Another Subban penalty lead to another St. Louis stamp on the night. Martin while playing the point fumbled a pass and let Gionta walk in on Roloson. Brian beat Roloson to score the 12th short handed goal the Lightning have given up this season. These are the risks coaches take with playing 4 forwards on the power play. The captain scored his 25th unassisted. The flow of the game picked up after the goal with Price making a couple of big saves. Boucher decided to play only 2 lines the rest of the way with St. Louis’ and Gagne’s line trying to out skate the Habs. Pouliot decided to put his mark on the game by getting two minors on the same play. Needless to say, Benoit didn’t see the ice the rest of the way. On the ensuing power play, St. Louis once again drilled one from the blue line and Gagne tipped it in. Gagne’s 12th from St. Louis and Clark tied the game up. For some reason, after that goal, Gionta and Gomez decided to skate for the rest of the night. Palushaj got robbed again. Roloson didn’t have much to do tonight but when he did they were all hi lite real material. Martin used Desharnais for most of his face offs in the third period without Plekanec and Halpern in the lineup. St. Louis continued his brilliant night by blowing around everyone but couldn’t seem to find Stamkos for that all important go ahead goal. The period ended with the score tied.

Overtime brought lots of promise but disappointed. No real scoring chances were created and both goalies were left to get ready for the shootout until Gomez drilled Roloson under the mask. Roloson went to the ground for a couple of seconds but regained his composure and got ready for the shootout.

The Shootout

Montreal decided to shoot first, and Martin went with a hunch and picked Nigel Dawes. Nigel didn’t disappoint and snapped (old time wrist shot) between Roloson’s legs. Stamkos was up next and decided to go wide. Price poked checked him and the puck rolled wide of the post. Gionta looked to put the Habs up 2 with his stop and go move but Roloson easily made the save. Now it was up to Martin St. Louis to put another stamp on the game. He tried the patented yet controversial spinnorama without a pause move. Price gobbled him up as he and the whole Bell Centre knew what was coming. Desharnais had his chance to finish the game but Roloson picked one out of the top corner and the Lightning were still alive.

Simon Gagne had to score, and that he did as he beat Price with a sweet drive wide cut across pick that out move top shelf goal. Needless to say, I liked it. Cammalleri took the next shot and beat Roloson between the legs to put the Habs up again. Guy Boucher chose Teddy Purcell to keep the Lightning in the game but he decided to play catch with Price. Price grabbed the puck out of the air and looked at Teddy with disdain.

Montreal won the game and Carey Price won his 34th of the year.

The Recap

The 3 stars as chosen by the fans were – well jokingly – Gionta, Price and Cammalleri. My star of the night for better or worse was Martin St. Louis. Martin set up 2 goals for the Lightning, gave one goal up to the Habs and missed in the shootouts His name is all over this game. So maybe it’s not Vincent that fans should want, maybe it’s Martin.

Montreal did gain two points in the standings and two points on Boston but only one on Tampa Bay. At least the 3 in 4 nights weekend started with a win.

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George Prax's picture

Big win. I agree it was all about St. Louis, both the good and the bad. I love the guy but I laughed when Gionta owned him on the second Habs goal (shows you how much speed Gionta can have outskating Martin St. Louis) and Price owning him in the shootout. Goes to show those kinds of moves by shooters are all psychouts. The moment they try to pull that crap on a good goalie he can read it from a mile away. Price made it look easy and frankly embarrassed him a little I think, and that's good because players don't need to do that shit. Look at the Habs goals, they were all five hole, simple but good shots. St. Louis was just showboating.

And I wouldn't be surprised if the fans voted him 3rd star (1st automatically goes to the OT or Shootout game winning goal scorer), but I wouldn't have voted for him because for every good thing he did he got cocky and made a mistake afterwards.

Loved Desharnais and Eller up the middle. Gomez was embarrassing again last night... but more on that in my blog this weekend lol.

Great win, great blog!

Jason Pietroniro's picture

Gomez, for real. Grip your stick for f*** sakes! Honestly, I know passes in the NHL are pretty intense but dude, c'mon. Not only can you not accept a pass, where's ur accuracy in giving them! St Louis musta had some jitters once Vinny got booted. Spotlight all on him and he failed to deliver. However that insane saucer pass ( if you can call it that, more like a UFO pass) was out of this world. Dangerous player, just didn't have the focus he usually has when he plays us.

Welcome to the team. I freaking love that we have new Habs ppl!