Canadiens 6, Senators 3
Ding. Ding. Bruisin' Brian McGrattan will undoubtedly be in numerous fights at the Corel Centre this season, but it's hard to imagine he'll deliver a more entertaining bout than last night's toe-to-toe with the Habs' Raitis Ivanans.
Never mind. All you need to know about Ivanans is that he is 6-foot-4 and 263 lbs. (probably about as heavy as Keith Tka-chunk was in June), that his triceps are about as big as our thighs and he throws a right you can feel all the way up here in the nosebleeds.
Also know this -- McGrattan tosses them just as hard.
As the puck was dropped following the game's first goal, Ivanans and McGrattan squared off over the dot at centre ice and began popping each other but good. Neither man buckled, neither pulled back. And when it looked like they were tiring and the linesmen were moving in, they engaged in Round 2 in front of the Montreal bench.
It was a classic.
The decision? Hard to say.
In the post-game dressing rooms, Ivanans bore the only visible sign of the altercation -- a nasty cut over his eye.
McGrattan, who apparently turned a career corner battling Ivanans in the minors, shook hands with his left. Naturally, his jackhammer was a little tender, as it will be for most of the season.
The real winners, though, had to be the 19,429 in attendance -- another record for the ever-growing Corel Centre.
STOPS AND STARTS: One might have been deflected. The other could have been a screen. And then, maybe Dominik Hasek just missed the Tomas Plekanec and Alex Kovalev shots that beat him in the second and third periods. One thing is certain -- he should have stopped the Richard Zednik softie that evaded him from in close for the fourth Montreal goal. Is it too early to start worrying? Nope. Not at all ... Jason Spezza was left in a heap -- then checking for loose chicklets -- after taking a slash and cross-check from North Bay's Craig Rivet early in the first. Brandon Bochenski mildly responded by pushing Rivet up against the glass, but you had the feeling a firmer form of retribution would be paid to the veteran Montreal defenceman by somebody a little later. Alas, it was not ... Hasek made the save of the first period, diving to thwart Zednik after Bochenski failed to clear the puck with a soccer-style kick. The rookie might want to take some lessons from Havlat if he's going to try the two-sport thing ... On Ottawa's first goal, Anton "A-Train" Volchenkov started the play in his own zone with a quick pass to a breaking Mike Fisher. Only A-Trained eye would have spotted it.
BETWEEN PERIODS: After watching him in a Senators sweater for a decade, it was strange to see Radek Bonk in the red, white and blue of the Canadiens. "It was a little weird," Bonk admitted of playing his old teammates. "But pretty much another game." Like the other games, Bonk picked up a point. At this stage, he is Montreal's second-leading scorer with one goal and seven assists in five pre-season games .... Note to Hab fans -- Bonk plays nearly the same way in the post-season as he does in the pre-season. That's why he is now considered a visitor at the Corel Centre ... Michael Komisarek could have been given about four minors on a second-period shift that finally saw him head to the box on a tripping call. During that rampage, he did draw the ire of one Zdeno Chara, who rammed Komisarek hard into the end boards. Chara led all players with eight hits on the night. Fisher was next on the hit list for the Senators with three. Komisarek and Zednik were the Hab co-leaders, also with three ... Left looking to the roof after a great scoring chance had been stolen by a quick glove was rookie Andrej Meszaros, who should be sent down to Binghamton for some seasoning so the Senators can make sure they won't lose Christoph Schubert on waivers. Meszaros was one of at least three victims of Yann Danis' trapper.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: So far in the Bryan Murray regime, Daniel Alfredsson is seeing more time as a penalty killer than a point man on the power play. Expect Alfredsson to continue jumping over the boards in short-handed situations -- Murray says his best players will get the most ice time -- and that it will be only a matter of time before the captain is quarterbacking man-advantage opportunities regularly again, as well ... Gotta like seeing Spezza take a run at Sheldon Souray, even if he is showing more guts than brains. Souray could eat him for lunch ... For the record, Cheapseats is not big on the vibrating "Scream if you're a Senators fan" demands that are flashed on the centre-ice scoreboard. Do Senator supporters also need the return of those big Mickey Mouse hands to let them know when it's time to clap, or are they a little brighter than a Maple Leafs crowd?... On the other hand, we are totally on board with the between-period goalie races, even if they are sponsored by the second best daily newspaper in town.
BUTT ENDS: McGrattan and Ivanans didn't get a lot of ice time after the fight, but both made nifty little passes for scoring chances in the second .... Chara led the Senators in shots on goal (five) and ice time (24:12) but was minus-2, along with Chris Phillips and Spezza.