Penalties killed Canadiens

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

The Montreal Canadiens probably feel like the referees blew the whistles on them last night against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

The Canadiens spent a good portion of the game killing penalties, four of which were converted into power-play goals by the Leafs in their 5-3 win.

At one point in the game, the Habs were assessed seven consecutive penalties, including infractions assessed against right winger Alexander Perezhogin and defenceman Sheldon Souray at the same time. Before those two penalties expired, defenceman Andrei Markov received a minor. The Habs staved off those short-handed situations

But it caught up to the visitors in the third period when defenceman Mike Komisarek received a four-minute minor highsticking penalty on Tie Domi, who left the ice with a cut eyelid. The Leafs scored two power-play goals on the four-minute series to go up 5-2.

"We weren't quite as sharp tonight and I think it resulted more in penalties that we took than anything," general manager/head coach Bob Gainey. "We were a step behind, a little bit late and resorted to reaching out and tugging too often and paid the price."

Gainey deflected the idea his team may have been tired playing in third game in four nights. The Habs are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 67 points, six ahead of Toronto, which is 11th overall.

"They played a strong game. They didn't give us anything easily," he said. "They got good goaltending and they forced us into those mistakes that ended up becoming power-play advantages for them and then they got the puck in the net."

Goalie Cristobal Huet, who made a sloppy clearing pass that resulted in the Leafs third power-play goal, said the penalties killed his team's rhythm and sapped the penalty killers.

"It was the same (two games ago) against Tampa," he said.

"We've got to change that, stay out of the box and play five-on-five."

Defenceman Sheldon Souray acknowledged the gluttony of calls against his team, but said it's been that way all season for team, especially since the break for the Olympics.

"You don't want to complain about the refereeing because it's been pretty consistent," he said. "There's a lot of penalties being called and tonight was no different. We took a lot of penalties and didn't do ourselves a lot of favours."

Richard Zednik, Andrei Markov and Chris Higgins scored for Montreal.


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