Sheldon Souray's 22nd goal of the season proved to be the game-winner in Montreal's 5-4 win over the archrival Maple Leafs.
MONTREAL - The blue line never feels closer to an opposing goalie than when Sheldon Souray tees it up, especially on the power-play. His game-winning goal against the Leafs - which Andrew Raycroft is still looking for- was just business as usual for Souray in 2006-07.
With now 22 goals to lead all NHL defenseman, Souray continues to baffle goalies league-wide with his booming shot. Not since Sergei Gonchar put up 26 goals in 2001-02 while still with the Capitals has a blue liner filled the net at such a torrid pace.
Besides being the Canadiens' top scorer, Souray also boasts a team-high 16 power-play goals and six game-winning goals. The 30-year-old unrestricted free agent to-be is also busy gunning for the club record for goals by a defenseman held by Guy Lapointe, who scored 28 goals back in 1974-75.
"Good things happen when we get the puck back to Sheldon at the point and we saw that again tonight," said an exhausted, flu-ridden Saku Koivu after picking up a goal and an assist, each with the extra man.
The Canadiens went 3-for-4 with the man advantage in their 5-4 win over the Leafs, as Montreal continues to sit second in the league behind the San Jose Sharks.
"It's no secret that special teams have been a major part of out success this year," added Koivu. "When we began to struggle in December, our PK and power-play is what slipped. We need to produce on the power-play if we want to make the playoffs."
Monday night didn't mark the first time Souray has dashed the hopes of Leafs Nation this season. In his only shootout attempt of his career so far, Souray notched the memorable clincher against Toronto back on Dec. 2 at the Bell Centre. With everyone in the building expecting him to blast a slapshot, Souray instead faked a shot before flipping the puck over a beleaguered Raycroft.
Getting Souray the puck and letting him rip has worked wonders for the Canadiens this season. Try as they might to limit his opportunities, opponents can't deny Souray the puck forever and standing in the way of one his blasts is something to be attempted at one's own risk.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com