Canadiens snap power play slump

Vancouver Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo (R) makes a save on Montreal Canadiens' Scott Gomez during...

Vancouver Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo (R) makes a save on Montreal Canadiens' Scott Gomez during the second period of their NHL ice hockey game in Montreal November 9, 2010. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

MONTREAL -- The talk will be about the Montreal Canadiens finally scoring a power-play goal.

Hey, when you've got the worst power play in the NHL and you break an 0-for-17 streak over your last six games, as the Habs did in their 2-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night, it's news.

But the story really is that as bad as the power play has been, the Canadiens' penalty killing has been as good or slightly better, mitigating the potential damage from their offensive struggles.

There was no better example than Tuesday night's game.

The Canucks went into the game with the league's top power play having scored seven times in their last 13 chances and going 8-for-24 during the six-game winning streak they brought into the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens and goaltender Carey Price - who had his second shutout of the season and the sixth of his career - shut them down on the four chances they had Tuesday night with the man advantage. The Canadiens have now killed 24 of their last 26 short-handed situations.

"On the (penalty kill), everybody's got the same frame of mind. When one pressures, they all pressure. When you put pressure on a power play, they need three, four or five passes to get an opportunity and they're probably not going to do it," said Price, who made 35 saves, including a sprawling beauty with a dozen seconds left in the game on Jannik Hansen.

"When we've been getting a chance to clear the puck, you've got to do it," Price said. "That's a line change and fresh legs."

The Canadiens (now 9-5-1) rode a goal by defenceman Andrei Markov, his first of the season, into the third period on a night when their misfiring power play could have made things a lot easier for them. The Canadiens entered the game with the worst power play in the league (3-for-47, 6.4 per cent) and went 0-for-3 through the first 40 minutes, including a highsticking double minor to Vancouver defenceman Andrew Alberts. He came across and caught Montreal forward Mathieu Darche across the bridge of the nose just as Darche released a shot.

The Canadiens finally broke through in the third period with Alberts in the box for clearing the puck over the glass when defenceman Roman Hamrlik stepped into the carom off the backboards, burying it in the open side before Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo could get over to close the door at 4:39 of the third. It was just the Canadiens second power-play goal at home this season (2-for-30 now).

Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin gave Price credit, but said the Canucks, now 8-4-2 as they kick off a five-game Eastern swing, were their own enemy on the power play.

"The power play has been the difference for us the last few games, but tonight we didn't do a good enough job. You need to know where everybody is going to be and it seemed like we were too far apart," he said. "Sometimes we were too close ... (Price) played a good game, but I think he saw every puck. We didn't have guys in front of the net and we were not hungry enough for the rebounds."

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said he saw a team that was out of sorts.

"I thought our execution was a little off," he said, noting his team had six outnumbered situations in the first two periods and failed to get a shot on goal. "This is such a competitive league that if you're a little off, you're going to make it hard on yourself to win. You've got to give them credit."

The Canadiens are off to Boston to face the Bruins Thursday night while the Canucks will travel to Ottawa to play the Senators the same night.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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