This one didn’t score any points for artistic merit. But it did score two points where it counted the most, for the Montreal Canadiens: in the “win” column, as the Habs snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings yesterday afternoon at the Bell Centre.
This one got real ugly in the opening minutes of the second period, when Denis Gauthier cracked Josh Gorges across the nose with a flying elbow; a move that Gautheir must have picked up while watching Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.” The hit by Gauthier, which earned the L.A. defenceman a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, left the Montreal defenceman bloodied and wobbly. Gorges left the game for several shifts, came back (amazingly), but failed to answer the bell for the third period after coughing up the puck late in the second period; a play which led to a goal by Jarret Stoll that gave the Kings a 3-2 lead. Then again, Gorges could hardly be blamed for the miscue, as he was clearly still feeling the effects of Gauthier’s version of “L.A. Law.”
However, the goal did put the Habs behind the eight-ball with 20 minutes to play, down 3-2. And they stayed there until Christopher Higgins literally took matters into his own hands with two minutes left in regulation play. Higgins shook off Drew Doughty, with one hand on the stick, and swooped in to beat Jonathan Quick for his first goal since Nov. 26. Higgins, who had missed 19 games with a shoulder injury, was then joined on the scoresheet by his sometimes-linemate Saku Koivu, who recently returned to action after missing 17 games with an ankle injury.
With 22.3 seconds remaining, and the Canadiens on the power play, Koivu pushed the puck past a sprawling Quick for the winning goal; a goal that was originally given to Andrei Markov as the puck dribbled into the net. It was Koivu’s first goal since Nov. 20.
Not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. But a huge two points for a struggling Canadiens hockey team, who finally got an all-star performance from Carey Price, who stopped Alexander Frolov on a breakaway for a game-saver, after Andrei Markov blew a tire along the Kings’ blue line.
Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Habs, who are back in action this afternoon at the Bell Centre, with the Boston Bruins providing the competition.