Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Habs Hot Goalie Blanks Canucks Tuesday

Jaroslav Halak was the difference maker at the Bell Centre for the Montreal Canadiens who wound up snapping the Canucks four-game winning streak Tuesday night. The Habs netminder stopped all 34 shots Vancouver fired his way to lead his team to a 3-0 win.

Halak was absolutely dynamite from start to finish. He was very good in the first period, especially when the Canucks failed to score on a full two minute 5-on-3 power play. Just as that man advantage had expired for Vancouver, Tomas Plekanec was able to get free on a breakaway and beat Roberto Luongo to the top corner. For Plekanec, it was is 16th of the season at 18:42.

Pavol Demitra was robbed on a breakaway chance by Halak early on in the 2nd period, which was quickly followed up on a big glove off of Mattias Ohlund from the slot.

A key turning point on the night came with under seven minutes remaining in the middle frame as Alex Burrows was assessed a major penalty for cross checking and a game misconduct. Henrik Sedin had a great chance to pull the Canucks level, but his short-handed breakaway chance would be denied by a big pad save by Halak.

The Habs did extend their lead on the extended power play as Andrei Markov made no mistake snapping home a back-door pass from Plekanec. Markov netted his 8th of the season and his team-leading 48th point of the year at 16:08.

Vancouver pulled out all the stops in the final frame to get one past the goalie, but Halak was equal to the task in a period that saw the Canadiens get out-shot 13-4. With Luongo on the bench for the extra attacker, the Habs put the game on ice as Maxim Lapierre found the empty net. His 11th of the season came with six seconds remaining in the game.

Final shots on net favoured the Canucks by a margin of 34-17. Vancovuer finished the game going 0-for-6 on the power play while the Canadiens went 1-for-7.

Now with an overall record of 30-22-8, the Canucks remain in 5th place in the Western Conference standings. They return to GM Place Friday Feb. 27 for their one and only meeting of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game time of the Canucks Pay Per View broadcast will be 7:00pm PST.

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