MONTREAL – The Panthers left this city Monday evening without the result they wanted, but with the realization they are getting closer to accomplishing their goals.
In a game that was “up for grabs,” according to goalie Tomas Vokoun, until the final minutes, the Canadiens beat the Panthers 3-1 here at the Bell Centre.
For the Panthers, the loss wasn’t from a lack of effort. They buzzed goalie Jaroslav Halak and had at least a dozen good scoring chances. But a shot by Francis Bouillon from the point at 10:53 of the final period that Vokoun never saw and an empty-net goal by Tomas Plekanec sealed the Panthers faith.
“If we scored a few goals tonight it could have been a different story,” said Radek Dvorak, who had several good scoring chances.
In fact, the Panthers only goal Monday was from Keith Ballard. Coach Peter DeBoer said after the game the Panthers need to get goal support from their forwards if they’re going to win these close games.
"The last few games we’ve got goals from Ballard, (Nick) Boynton and even (Karlis) Skrastins has goals,” he said. “The forwards have to find the scoreboard. They’re working hard but they’ve got to put the puck in the net.
“We’re creating chances. It’s not effort. They’re working hard. but it’s got to show up on the scoreboard. Five games in and we have some guys who still haven’t hit the score sheet yet. (Brett) McLean and (Richard) Zednik… (Stephen) Weiss only has one. (Nathan) Horton only has one. Those guys have to find a way to score. I’m not doubting the effort, but we need goals from our forwards.”
Coming into the game off a 2-0 shutout Saturday over the Islanders, and facing Jaroslav Halak, a former 11th round draft pick, the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead during a 4-on-4 at 2:07 of the second period after roughing penalties to Jay Bouwmeester and Guillaume Latendresse.
Andrei Markov skated into the Panther zone, found a seam between Skrastins and Cory Murphy, and carried the puck deep before dishing it to a trailing Saku Koivu who buried his shot into the Panther net.
Two minutes later, the Panthers missed a chance to tie the game when a Kamil Kreps wrist shot from the left boards snuck through Halak and ever-so-slosely slid just above the goal line before Halak cleared the puck.
The Panthers couldn’t capitalize on two outstanding chances in the first period. The first came at 3:52 when Halak stopped Gregory Campbell on a tip-in attempt and then followed that by stopping Rostislav Olesz at the crease.
Five minutes later, Cory Stillman set up with Horton with a nice pass, but Horton’s wrist shot was snared by Halak’s glove.
The Panthers chances continued to no avail.
In the closing minutes of the second period, Halak stopped Dvorak from in close and, with only 44 seconds remaining in the period, the goalie came up big on a redirect by Stillman on a beautiful feed from Boynton.
Vokoun never saw the winning goal, and the empty-net goal came with 21 seconds remaining in regulation when Alex Kovalev made a nice clearing pass out of the Canadiens zone.
“It’s important for our group to dwell on the positives because there are a lot of them,” McLean said.
They’ll carry those positives to Ottawa.
SENATORS IN WAITING
Senators’ coach Craig Hartsburg will be hoping for a better 60-minute effort from his club when they play host Wednesday evening to the Panthers. Hartsburg was reportedly not happy with the team’s performance in their 4-2 loss Saturday to the Bruins. The Panthers mark the first of four games in six nights for the Senators, who are 2-2-1.
“It might be (a lack of playing games), but as far as the competitive part, you should be able to play a game (for 60 minutes) in August or December,” Hartsburg told the Ottawa Sun.
The Panthers are 0-4 the past two years in Ottawa, 11-13-2-2 in the town since 1993.
The Panthers starting lineup: Vokoun, Skrastins and Jay Bouwmeester, Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Richard Zednik…The Canadiens starters: Halak, Andrei Markov and Michael Komisarek, Robert Lang, Tom Kostopoulos and Kyle Chipchura… The Canadiens were without Andrei Kostitsyn, who was injured when hit Saturday by Coyotes’ defenseman Kurt Sauer…
1 - 0 MTL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 MTL
SHG - EN -
3 - 1 MTL
Delay of game
Holding the stick