Kovalev on top around net

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Everyone knows Habs winger Alex Kovalev is tremendously gifted, but this is crazy:

A Montreal reporter was explaining to us how impressive it was to watch Kovalev get on his knees at one blue line and fire a puck off the crossbar of the furthest net. Kovalev interrupted, saying that's not exactly what he was attempting to do.

"I'm trying to land the puck on top of the net," he said. "I once did it three times in a row in Pittsburgh."

Just sit with that for a couple of seconds ....

Last night, the Habs welcomed Kovalev back for a divisional tilt with the Senators after he had missed the previous 13 games with a knee injury, and while he didn't fire any pucks on top of the net he did manage to put one behind a goalie for the 300th time in his NHL career. That milestone goal -- as well as his 700th point on the first Montreal goal and his 701st with an assist on the second -- generated the loudest cheers at the Bell Centre in a game that proved the Canadiens-Senators rivalry is alive and kicking and ended with Kovalev (who else?) scoring on Dominik Hasek to end the shootout.

Starts and Stops:

After the morning skate, Senators C Jason Spezza learned that Habs starting G Jose Theodore would miss the game with a sore knee and Montreal had Cristobal Huet and Yann Danis available as his replacement. A joker suggested they would be using both of them, but meant at the same time. "I hope so," Spezza said with a laugh, thinking the point was Ottawa would chase the starter with a barrage of goals. "That's our plan. That's our plan every night."... Looked like it would be a long night for Huet (or a short one) when Spezza opened the scoring at 1:29 of the first. Of course, it was D Sheldon Souray that was actually the goat, as he blindly passed the puck behind the net to Spezza, who graciously accepted the gift and jumped out front for a gimme goal ... Souray had already been burned by Spezza earlier this season, as he was the pylon Ottawa's No. 19 stepped around in scoring what still stands as the most spectacular goal of the season.

Punch Lines:

Habs D Craig Rivet was given a total of 14 penalty minutes on one play, first for high-sticking, then mocking the officials by clapping at them in disgust, then by yapping from the box. With F Niklas Sundstrom already serving a minor, the Senators had a golden opportunity to build on a 1-0 lead, but couldn't ... Senators coach Bryan Murray, who pleads with his players to shoot the puck more on the power play, must have been going nuts watching Ds Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara allow time to expire in the second period while passing the puck back and forth at least a half- dozen times on the 5-on-3 ... Spezza was still wearing bandages on his knuckles at yesterday's morning skate, a stinging souvenir from his fight with Leafs D Carlo Colaiacovo on Saturday. "Just scratches," said Spezza, before nodding in the direction of linemates Dan Alfredsson and Dan Heatley and winking. "I told Alfie and Heats they can play with a little more confidence, they should have some more room out there now."

Between Periods:

Alfredsson made two beauty passes through the high slot in setting up goals by Andrej Meszaros and Chara in the second period ... Hasek should have stopped a sharp-angle shot by Michael Ryder that instead became Montreal's second goal of the night ... If the Bell Centre has been louder than it was last night, it'd be interesting to know when.

Thing That Make You Go Hmmm:

There's classy Jean Beliveau on the centre-ice scoreboard, watching the game from his seats. And there's Fergie, singing about her "lovely lady humps" at the same time. As was pointed out, it certainly was music that clashed with the picture ... Mike Fisher nearly ended the game with 2:14 to go in overtime when he rattled a shot off the post on Huet's stick side.

Butt Ends:

Missing last night's game because of the flu stopped D Chris Phillips' ironman streak at 131 games. It was the longest consecutive-game streak on the go by a Senator ... The flu is also something you're especially leery of at the start of a road trip. The Senators are going to be living together for the next three days (in Philly and Long Island) and the last thing they need is a bug crawling through their camp.


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