|With his third-period goal against the Flames, Alex Kovalev extended his point streak to three games (2-2-4). |
CALGARY- Behind a pair of goals by Jarome Iginla, the Flames edged the Canadiens 3-2 at the Pengrowth Saddledome Thursday night in Calgary.
The Canadiens (21-17-6) dropped their first game since Bob Gainey took over behind the bench, while the Northwest Division-leading Flames (27-14-5) extended their home-ice winning streak to six games.
Already deprived of the services of Andrei Markov, who will be out of the lineup for at least three weeks with a shoulder injury, the Canadiens also had to do without Sheldon Souray, who was ejected from the game for attempting to injure Darren McCarty during a first period fight. Souray dropped the gloves with McCarty despite wearing a protective wrap on his left wrist. Once McCarty was cut over his right eye during their tussle, Souray was ejected according to NHL Rule No. 43 whereby any player wearing tape or any other material on his hands (below the wrist) who cuts or injures an opponent during an altercation will receive a match penalty.
Saku Koivu opened the scoring at the 3:07 mark of the first period when he tipped in a Sheldon Souray shot from the point for the captain's 11th goal of the season. Koivu then set-up linemate Alex Kovalev, who notched his 10th, to close the gap to 3-2 with less than five minutes to play in regulation, but the Canadiens were unable to score the equalizer.
Making his third consecutive start, Jose Theodore kicked aside 27-of-30 shots. Miikka Kiprusoff was not quite as busy stopping 16-of-18 shots as he picked up his 24th win, while improving to 17-3 at the Saddledome on the year. Iginla notched his team-leading 20th and 21st goals of the season, while also assisting on Daymond Langkow's goal.
The Canadiens power-play went 1-for-5, while the Flames were 2-for-5 with their goals coming on 5-on-3 and a 4-on-3 man advantages.
Montreal's longest road trip of the season will see the Canadiens head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks at GM Place on Saturday.
NOTES: Shouldering the bulk of the load on the blueline with the loss of Souray and Markov was D Francis Bouillon, who logged a game-high 27:02... RW Richard Zednik made his return to the lineup after missing one game with a left thumb injury... Kovalev extended his point streak to three games (2-2-4)... C Mike Ribeiro picked up assist to extend his point streak to three games (3-2-5) since Gainey took over for Claude Julien behind the bench... C Jan Bulis saw his seven-game point streak come to an end, while D Craig Rivet's four game streak was also snapped... D Mike Komisarek celebrated his 24th birthday by playing in his 100th career NHL game as he returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch against the Stars on Monday... LW Tomas Plekanec (knee) missed his 13th straight game, while RW Andrei Kostitsyn and D Jean-Philippe Cote were healthy scratches... The game was preceded by a ceremony honoring former Flames and Canadiens coach Al MacNeil for his 25 years spent with the Flames organization. The 70-year-old, who guided the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup in 1971, also spent a season on the Canadiens blueline during his 11-year NHL playing career...
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com