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The killers

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

NEW YORK – Sometimes a look at the scoresheet can help explain the results on the scoreboard.

The only goal the Canadiens penalty killers allowed on Saturday night came on a 5-on-3 opportunity early on in the first period. Snuffing out all seven of the Rangers’ 5-on-4 chances, the PK unit wasn’t the problem; the fact that they were on the ice for almost a third of the game was.

“We got ourselves into penalty trouble and it got us back on our heels. It gets guys overtaxed on the PK and then other guys were underplayed 5-on-5,” explained Brian Gionta, who played 5:29 shorthanded. “It kind of ruins the momentum of the game. We weren’t moving our feet. When you’re not moving your feet, you’re going to be behind the play and that’s when you take penalties.”

Among the 23 minutes Hal Gill played in Saturday’s tilt, 8:35 were spent shorthanded. Only fellow defensive stalwart Josh Gorges topped him in that category, spending 10:09 of his night on the PK. With two fighting majors, a game misconduct and six minor penalties to kill off in the opening frame alone, there wasn’t much time left for the Habs to claw their way back from a 3-0 deficit.

“It was a tough first period for us,” offered Carey Price, who stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced.  “Especially in a back-to-back game like that, it’s hard on the penalty killers. That’s a lot of energy in the first period when you’re killing that many penalties. The guys did a good job of battling through that.

“Falling behind like that wasn’t easy but you have to give the guys credit in this room; they didn’t quit,” he added. “We just came up a little bit short.  If it wasn’t for the first period it could’ve been a different game.”

The lone Rangers power play goal came off a controversial call that gave the Blueshirts a 5-on-3 opportunity just over four minutes into the game. Even 56 minutes later, head coach Jacques Martin was still trying to sort out the details of the play.

“I didn’t understand the call on the 5-on-3. I thought it should’ve been even – they should’ve gotten an instigator,” admitted Martin, whose team also capitalized on a two-man advantage in the game. “But the bottom line is we took too many penalties and it cost us. It’s hard to win a hockey game when you’re in the penalty box.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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