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History made in Montreal

by Brian Compton

The Canadiens came from behind a 5 goal deficit to beat the Rangers 6-5 in a shootout. Watch the Habs incredible comeback
Some random thoughts while I try to think of an Expos crowd that was as riveted as the 21,273 who packed the Bell Centre on Tuesday night:

A Night To Remember … Or Forget — For all their legendary accomplishments, the Montreal Canadiens never had overcome a five-goal deficit to win.

Now they have.

The Canadiens spotted the New York Rangers a 5-0 lead midway through the second period, then roared back with five unanswered goals before Saku Koivu’s shootout goal gave them a 6-5 victory – one more improbable than Rocky Balboa’s street-fight KO of Tommy “The Machine” Gunn.

Former Ranger Alex Kovalev rolled onto his back amid a wild ovation after he tied it with his team-leading 29th goal at 15:38 of the third period.

''When I was laying down, I could see that there was nobody sitting,'' Kovalev said. ''It's unbelievable. A game like this, we just had to keep playing and you never know what will happen.''

Rangers coach Tom Renney said the loud, sellout crowd at Bell Centre played a major role in the comeback.

“I give the Montreal fans a ton of credit,” he said. “That's what you're supposed to do, you're behind your team and they did a great job of that, and this hockey team, which is very dangerous, certainly fed off of that and took what we gave them.''

What they gave them – and the delirious crowd – was a night nobody who witnessed it will ever soon forget.

“The Montreal Canadiens are (nearly) 100 years old and have had some great teams," said Habs coach Guy Carbonneau. "You have to give credit to the players.

"I think last year, we would have packed it in. But we've been like this since the start of the season. That's why we haven't had any long losing streaks. It's fun to come back. It's a big boost for our team, especially at this time of year."


At Last — Boston rookie David Krejci finally got his chance in a shootout, and made the most of it. Krejci, listed third on the Bruins’ shootout list, scored the clincher as Boston beat Carolina, 3-2.

Coach Claude Julien also had Krejci listed third in the Bruins’ last shootout, but he didn’t get the chance to shoot. This time, he fired a wrist shot past Cam Ward’s glove to win the game.

''I put him as our third shooter last time and we didn't need him,'' Julien said. ''It wasn't a hunch. ... When we watched him during our practice doing that stuff, he was one of our better ones, so I thought it was a good time to let him try it. Last time I did, and he never had a chance to go.''

Little Things — There really have been some good things happening for the Toronto Maple Leafs. One of them has been the development of a solid third line.

The unit of Chad Kilger, Dominic Moore and Boyd Devereaux had a solid night in the Leafs’ 3-1 win over Columbus, with Kilger getting his 10th goal of the season and Moore, a waiver-wire pickup from Minnesota, adding two assists.


They're the kind of guys that are sort of underrated," Moore said of his linemates. "What they do a lot of times goes unnoticed — little things that make a big difference.

"I think the three of us sort of know how to support each other that way."

They’ll need to continue that sort of production for the Leafs to make any kind of playoff run — Toronto is seven points out of a playoff spot with 21 games left.

A Point Is A Point — When you’ve lost seven in a row, one point is better than none. At least, that’s how the Philadelphia Flyers viewed their 3-2 shootout loss at Ottawa — a game in which they trailed 2-0.

“We battled hard and that's a good thing,” center Daniel Briere said after the Flyers’ losing streak reached eight. “Right now we're desperate trying to find ways to win games. At least we were able to get a point, and I know that's not the same as winning, but at least it's a step in the right direction.''

One continuing problem for the Flyers has been their lack of success at shootouts. They’re now 1-10 in the past two seasons.

Better Late Than Never – Once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins used some late dramatics and remained in the thick of the Atlantic Division race.


Ryan Malone scored twice in the final 3:20, leading the Pens to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers in the Steel City on Tuesday.

''Off the bat, for whatever reason, it takes us a while to get going, and sooner or later that might come back to bite us,'' said Malone, who has 11 points in his past nine games. ''But right now we're happy with the two points. That was the main thing tonight, to get the W.''

Also, Pittsburgh once again proved no lead is safe against them. The Penguins improved to 15-6-1 when their opponent scores first.

Power Surge — The St. Louis Blues’ power play has struggled all season — until the last two games. Not even coach Andy Murray can figure out why it suddenly has come alive, scoring three times in each of the last two games, a pair of 5-1 victories.

''I don't know what the difference is,'' Murray said. ''We're not doing anything different, we're not teaching anything different.”

The Blues had just 29 power-play goals in their first 57 games before getting six in the last two.

“Pucks are just going in for us right now,'' Murray said.

Brotherly Love — The Sedin twins won some more admirers Tuesday night.


Daniel and Henrik Sedin assisted on Markus Naslund’s game-tying goal, then Henrik set up Daniel for the overtime winner in Vancouver’s 3-2 victory over Minnesota.

''They're world-class players, and definitely a first line on any team,'' Wild forward Brian Rolston said. ''They're definitely a force to be reckoned with.''

Especially when they’re desperate. The two points kept the Canucks tied with Calgary for the last two playoff berths in the West, two points ahead of Phoenix.

“We found a way to win it in overtime,'' Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.

A Win Is A Win — Blowing a 3-1 lead and having to rally to beat a weaker opponent at home isn’t what the Nashville Predators had in mind. But they weren’t complaining after coming from behind to beat the Edmonton Oilers, 5-4, at the Sommet Center.

''This game was similar to the Minnesota game,'' Predators coach Barry Trotz said, referring to a 5-4 overtime loss on Sunday. ''Our team was up by two in both games and then we let the other team back in. At that point you don't know which way it is going to go.''

The Predators led 3-1 before the Oilers scored three times in a 2:18 span of the second period to jump in front. Jason Arnott tied it late in the period and J.P. Dumont scored the winner at 18:05 of the third period when he skated around the net and backhanded a shot past Mathieu Garon.

But Dumont was more concerned with the Predators' defense than he was with the offense.


''That's not the kind of hockey we want to play,'' said Dumont, who had missed the previous two games with the flu. ''We have a lot of stuff to clean up, especially the way we played away from the puck. That's usually the best part of the game for us, playing good two-way hockey. We have to look forward and make sure we take care of that. But we'll take the two points.”

That’s Better – Mike Keenan was a happy man on Tuesday night.

Not only did he get strong performances from the likes of Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf (which, of course, is expected), but Miikka Kiprusoff – who had allowed 10 goals on his last 51 shots faced – made 24 saves as the Flames skated away with a 4-1 win at Phoenix.

''From start to finish, this was a more consistent performance,'' Keenan said. ''In December and January we were not consistent and we need to rekindle the consistency here in the final weeks of the season.''

Iginla and Phaneuf each had two goals in the victory. For Phaneuf, it was the hulking defenseman’s first two-goal game of the season.

''This is type of game we have to play,'' Iginla said. ''The forwards came back, the defense stood up in front and (Kiprusoff) played well. We need to play this way from here on out.''

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