Whitby - Oct. 25, 2011 - The Montreal Canadiens played a much improved game on Monday night against the Florida Panthers, still, they run into a hot goaltender and suffered another loss. Jacob Markstrom stopped 40-of-41 shots to backstop the Panthers’ second straight win. Panthers’ forward Scottie Upshall netted the game winner at 5:02 of the third period by deflecting a Dmitri Kulikov point shot behind Canadiens’ goaltender Peter Budaj.
The Canadiens continue to make history for all the wrong reasons. After tonight’s loss, the Canadiens are now off to their worst start since the 1941-42 season.
Montreal started strong out of the gates against Florida. Erik Cole was a force tonight and was put on the power play. Cole had noticeably more ‘fight’ in his eyes and in his on-ice efforts. In doing so, Cole scored his first goal (a powerplay marker) of the season at 3:08 of the opening frame.
Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann responded with his own powerplay marker at 15:59 of the first period leaving both teams deadlocked at one goal apiece until Upshall scored in the third period.
Canadiens’ Peter Budaj played a very strong game for Montreal as the team was playing under difficult circumstances. This was Budaj’s first game in nets for the Canadiens.
Of concern to the Canadiens’ family was an apparent upper body imjury to Max Pacioretty when he attempted to negate an icing late in the second period. Pacioretty will be re-evaluated on Tuesday morning.
The announced three stars of the contest were Florida’s Dmitri Kulikov (3rd star, four shots on goal, one assist), Habs’ own Budaj (2nd star, stopped 29-of-31 shots) and Jacob Markstrom (1st star, stopped 40-of-41 shots).
The Bell Centre was sold out to 21,273 spectators. Montreal’s next game sees them hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday evening. Montreal’s record now stands at 1-5-2 after 8 games.
For a complete statistical review of the game and individual Canadiens’ performances, please see the NHL.com link below.
View From the Whitby Cheap Seats
Florida’s own Dmitri Kulikov was a force to be reckoned with on this evening. He was everywhere it seemed tonight, both in the defensive and offensive zone. Hands down, the difference maker in the game was goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
The largest roar from the crowd at the Bell Centre was a devastating hit delivered by P.K. Subban on Kris Versteeg. Not to be outdone, Florida’s Matt Bradley simply obliterated dimunitive David Desharnais. To Desharnais’ credit, it was impressive to see him get up on his accord.
In the post-game coach’s interview, Jacques Martin mentioned that “it was our best powerplay so far”. An interesting footnote to Martin’s statement was the fact both Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty were on the powerplay.
Martin admitted that Montreal’s newest fourth line centre, Petteri Nokelainen did a good job on the faceoff tonight and is expected to help Montreal on the penalty kill. Martin does not believe that Montreal’s lack of success so far this season is not a question of urgency because “when you play with emotion, you can bounce back”.
Goals were hard to come by in the contest due to a very impressive performance displayed by Florida’s Markstrom. Montreal has no confidence in the offensive zone right now, which is a direct result of the first seven games in this 2011-12 NHL regular season.
Can someone tell me why Michael Cammalleri is thrown out onto the ice for penalty kills? It doesn’t look like he’s giving his all. While I do believe that this is not Montreal’s best option on the penalty kill, but who would be the better choice at this point?
The Canadiens’ players sounded collectively dejected in various post-game interviews in the Canadiens’ dressing room. Erik Cole did not want to talk to reporters.
Both teams tonight had new players that were picked up via trade in the past week. Marco Sturm played for Florida while Petteri Nokelainen played for the Canadiens.
Game Stats Review
Recent callup, winger Michael Blunden led his team with three hits in 6:15 of ice time.
Versatile forward/defenseman Yannick Weber led the Canadiens with 24:56 of ice time and had three shots on goal.
Erik Cole saw much more powerplay time tonight than normal and also skated on the team’s second line. Cole led the Canadiens with six shots on goal in 15:30 of ice time.
Montreal went one-for-three on the powerplay but were only 47% collectively in winning faceoffs.
Speaking of winning faceoffs, here is how individual Habs’ centremen faired:
Michael Cammalleri went one-for-three (.333)
David Desharnais went 4-for-14 (.286)
Lars Eller went 8-for-21 (.381)
Petteri Nokelainen was perfect and won all four faceoffs
Tomas Plekanec went 11-for-17 (.647)
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last one…