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Carbo's kids refuse to go quietly

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Battle for final roster spots far from over

Alexander Perezhogin and Andrei Kostitsyn have no interest in giving up their stalls in the Habs' dressing room.

MONTREAL - Guy Carbonneau may want to keep a bottle of Tylenol handy over the next few days because the young guns at his training camp have no intention of making their coach's final decision an easy one.

After Guillaume Latendresse led the way with a three-point effort against the Senators Monday night, it was Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Perezhogin's turn to shine in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Lightning.

Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist while Perezhogin - after a slow start to the preseason - scored the overtime winner and added an assist, which surely brought a smile to his coach's face.

"When I found out about what the coach had said about me last week, it wasn't easy to hear," admitted Perezhogin about Carbonneau saying he expected more from the 23-year-old. "But I think he did that because he wants to bring out the best in me, not to put me down."

Carbonneau's training camp message appears to have been heard loud and clear by Perezhogin, who certainly had a spring in his step against the Lightning.

"Even going back to last year, [Carbonneau] has always been good to me and we get along well," said Perezhogin. "I was just waiting for my chance to prove what I could do, and that time was tonight. I know I can do more than I have so far, it's just up to me to play my game and have fun out there. The rest is out of my hands."

The strides being made by the Canadiens' stars of tomorrow have also grabbed captain Saku Koivu's attention.

"The kids really came on strong as the game went on. They came up with two big goals for us and continue to show they are ready to fight to stay here," said Koivu, who saw Kostitsyn set up his tying goal midway through the third period.

"I think our young guys are going to make things tough on Guy and his final decision won't be an easy one," added Koivu. "But even those who will be sent down are definitely going to be called up at some point this year. Having that kind of depth and knowing they can play at this level is absolutely huge for us."

The man poised to make those tough decisions couldn't be happier to see his young talent refusing to go quietly.

"I made it clear when training camp began that we were expecting battles for all positions and that's exactly what's happened," said Carbonneau. "For the future of this team, this type of competition is a great thing and we'll be a stronger organization for it.

"Perezhogin, Kostitsyn, Latendresse and our young defensemen are all playing well," added Carbonneau. "They're now getting some serious minutes against established NHL players, and they all deserve a fair shot."

If the Habs youngsters' plan was to give Carbonneau more to think about, it's working.

"There will be cuts on Wednesday," revealed Carbonneau. "But I don't see the final roster being set until Sunday. We still have two games left and we're looking to keep a few extra players on board, a defenseman and a forward, maybe even two. For now, everything is still up in the air."

Manny Almela is a writer for

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