SUN Hockey Pool

Habs simply more special

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The game started out ugly.

Then it got downright nasty.

But it sure was entertaining.

Dion Phaneuf had his pocket picked on the powerplay in the opening minutes to give the Montreal Canadiens the lead but fellow blueline giant Robyn Regehr changed the tone of the game with a devastating check that sent Aaron Downey to a local hospital.

The hit gave the Calgary Flames a shot of adrenaline and the momentum but the Canadiens took it back with a dominant powerplay and went on to win 5-4 last night at the Bell Centre in front of 21,273 rabid fans.

"Both our special teams haven't been good enough to win us games," said Regehr, whose side was 2-for-8 with the man advantage but allowed a shorthanded goal for the third time this season. "We need both of them to get better."

The special teams malfunction wound up taking some of the shine away from Regehr's highlight-reel knockout.

Downey had just chipped the puck into the Flames zone along the boards and didn't see the looming impact until the 6-ft. 3-in., 225-lb. Regehr launched his shoulder into his chin.

Immobile on the ice for a couple of minutes, Downey looked dazed as he was guided to the dressing room and then taken to hospital for observation. It was later ann-ounced he has a concussion and is out indefinitely.

"I saw the opportunity to make a big hit there on Downey and I took it," said Regehr. "It was just after they got the momentum so I wanted to get our guys going a bit.

"I think he was just admiring his dump-in and I tried to hit him with my shoulder. I think it was perfectly clean."

Head coach Jim Playfair said the team talked about establishing their physical game early and Regehr didn't disappoint.

"That was a huge hit and I think it set us up to all be invested in the game," said Playfair.

There were skirmishes and bad feelings the rest of the way.

But there were goals, too. Plenty of them.

Reminiscent of Mark Giordano's performance against the Leafs, Montrealer Matthew Lombardi netted a pair in his hometown return (Beantown native Tony Amonte is next on that list with tomorrow's game in Boston.

Sheldon Souray and Radek Bonk countered, each with two goals of their own, and the shifty home side took advantage of a handful of powerplay opportunities with back-to-back scores in the second period to steal the momentum back from the Flames (2-3-1-0).

"That's when we started to get into trouble," said Lombardi. "When we were 5-on-5 and skating and using our speed, we were all over them.

"We're getting those goals we've been lacking but obviously not doing the job defensively. We're giving up too much there and it's showing in the score."

Nobody is talking about the goal drought in Calgary anymore but they are wondering how so many are getting by Miikka Kiprusoff, who has seen 10 pucks behind him over two games.

Playfair rightfully defended his keeper's play as the Habs went 3-for-7 on the powerplay.

"I think our penalty killers could have done a much better job getting in shooting lanes," he said.

Phaneuf and Chuck Kobasew each scored their first of the season in the loss, while Alex Kovalev netted the game-winner for Montreal.


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