Thursday, May 01, 2008

Momentum killing penalty proves costly for Montreal

Guy Carbonneau wasn’t amused, seemingly infuriated with a late third period call against Steve Begin, which brought an end to Montreal’s comeback and propelled the Flyers on to a 4-2 victory and commanding 3 game to one lead in their Eastern Semi final.

Montreal had launched an impressive rebuttal to the Flyers two goal lead, clawing their way back to a tie with two goals within thirteen seconds of each other in the third period, a sudden momentum change that seemed to catch the Flyers flat footed and suddenly vulnerable.

However, all of that forward movement came to an end when Steve Begin flagrantly tossed a Flyer dangerously towards an open gate, an interference foul which provided Philadelphia with a two minute advantage which Daniel Briere took full advantage of. Briere who is the Flyers leading scorer in the playoffs, did not disappoint as he score the go ahead goal with less than three and a half minutes to go, an empty net goal three minutes later would seal the Canadiens fate.

After the game Carbonneau managed to keep his temper in check and didn’t discuss the referees call to any great degree, which probably is best since his words could prove costly with the NHL office and the penalty was a dumb one to take at a key moment in the game. Whether justified or not considering the flow of the play, to go out of your way to seek the attention of the referees as Begin did, is a lack of discipline and proved to be a momentum killer for the Habs.

Briere proved to be a haunting figure for the Canadiens, having reportedly turned down overtures from Montreal in the off season, choosing instead to make his hockey home in Philadelphia, his decision certainly has caused the Canadiens more than just a little bit of trouble.

Even more troublesome for Les Habitants has been the outstanding goaltending from one time Quebec Nordique Super Fan, Martin Biron. The Flyer goaltender grew up supporting the fleur de lys emboldened Nords in the famed battles of Quebec, and now he is adding his own sense of destiny and misery to the Canadiens with remarkable saves and key stops at the most important stages of the game.

Wednesday night he faced off against a new rival in the Montreal end as the Canadiens decided to go with Jaroslav Halak in the Montreal nets, Halak stepping in for the rattled Corey Price and performing rather well in his starting assignment.

Ultimately though the gambit failed as the Flyers found a way to win once again, registering alarm bells northwards to Quebec, where Montreal fans suddenly must be feeling a little nervous about their prospects of continuing the Habs remarkable run in 2008.

The series resumes on Saturday night in Montreal, where it’s expected that Price will once again return to the Canadiens net. Whether it’s to be his last game of the season or the potential launching of a comeback for the ages remains to be seen, regardless of which goaltender takes to the Montreal net, the key to game five will be who can put the puck in the other one. The Habs season may be on borrowed time now, unless Montreal can find a way to solve the steady and uncompromising Biron.

Without goals there will be no wins, and without wins there will be no more hockey in Montreal as May gets underway.

CBC Sports-- Frustrated Habs can't find the net
Montreal Gazette-- Goalie gamble fails
Montreal Gazette-- Habs behind eight ball
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers-Canadiens: Game 4 recap
Philadelphia Daily News-- Biron has been saving grace for Flyers
. Stats Pack

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