By Chris Harris
Hello, hockey fans and welcome to Game 4 Cup Commentary coverage of the Habs-Hurricanes.
The eye injury suffered by Canadiens captain Saku Koivu in Game 3 remains front and centre on the minds of Habs fans. As hard as it may be, the team must now move forward without their leader and try to get back on track after a heartbreaking loss.
The Habs botched a glorious opportunity to snatch a 3-0 stranglehold in the series by squandering a third-period lead Wednesday before losing 2-1 in overtime.
A lot of people are hoppin' aboard the Cam Ward train. The 22-year-old rookie goalie stole the show for Carolina in Game 3 with an impressive effort in his first career playoff start. There's no denying Ward's skill and pedigree. After all, this is a guy who was dynamite in the junior ranks and was picked by Wayne Gretzky and company for the Canadian Olympic shortlist.
But hold on just a minute. Let's not get too carried away just yet.
I heard someone yesterday mention Ward and - get this - Patrick Roy circa '86 in the same sentence. I'm not saying it isn't out of the realm of possibility that Ward could get hot and maybe carry his team deep into the playoffs. But one strong game does not make a Conn Smythe trophy winner.
Almost game time. Should be a good one.
GAME OVERThanks for joining us for tonight's action. You can check back here tomorrow for live commentary of Game 5 between Ottawa and Tampa Bay as the Senators try to knock off the reigning Cup champs. Also, remember you can always check out the latest Stanley Cup coverage anytime at CBC.ca. Good night.
GAME OVERCAROLINA 3 MONTREAL 2
The Hurricanes looked cooked after the opening two games of the series and during much of Game 3. But a couple one-goal wins and this best-of-seven is now a best-of-three set. The Canadiens now need to regroup in time for Sunday's Game 5 in Carolina.
Scott Oake is now interviewing Cam Ward and this dude is as cool as a cucumber. Check his pulse. Nothing seems to faze this guy. The Canadiens could be in trouble if he can keep this momentum rolling through the rest of the series. But hey guys, things could be worse. You could be the Dallas Stars.
By the way, tonight's three stars are:
1. Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina
2. Justin Williams, Carolina
3. Sheldon Souray, Montreal
GAME OVERCAROLINA 3 MONTREAL 2 The final faceoff doesn't go so well for the Habs. They aren't able to muster a shot and the series is now all tied up at two apiece heading back to Raleigh.
3RD PERIOD, 19:48
Huet is now at the bench and the Habs have one last chance at a final flurry after an icing call on the Hurricanes. The faceoff will be to the left of Cam Ward. There's a timeout called and 11.2 seconds remaining.
The Habs win the draw and Ryder fires a shot, stopped by Ward, and it only burns about three seconds off the clock.
3RD PERIOD, 19:10Huet still hasn't gone to the bench for the extra attacker.
3RD PERIOD, 15:34
This is the only period tonight in which the Habs have outshot Carolina. They're controlling the flow so far in the third, but aren't able to find the twine. The crowd remains right in this one and erupts after Mathieu Dandenault bounces Bret Hedican off the boards with a crushing check.
Time is now Montreal's greatest foe.
3RD PERIOD, 13:13The Canadiens are putting on the pressure, forcing a lot of faceoffs in the Carolina zone. They haven't created many quality chances, but they're beginning to click again and should make for an interesting finale.
3RD PERIOD, 10:00Half a period left and the Canadiens are frantically trying to squeak out the tying goal. The Hurricanes appear to be going on the defensive. Maybe they'll start employing the Craig MacTavish trap, er, what's that? It's not a trap? It's not a trap (wink, wink)? How 'bout we call it the clog?
3RD PERIOD, 5:54CAROLINA 3 MONTREAL 2
Rod Brind'Amour has a goal. No, seriously, it's gonna count this time. It's a bit of a strange one. Mark Recchi wired a shot from the wing that hit Huet, dribbled through the crease and onto Brind'Amour's stick.
Brind'Amour somehow was able to find some daylight between Huet's legs, banking it off the Montreal goalie. The play looked eerily like the disallowed goal toward the end of the second.
3RD PERIOD, 3:15Good pace to this final period. The way these teams are going, they don't appear to want to wait around for overtime. Or, am I just projecting my wishes onto them?
3RD PERIOD, 0:45Oh my goodness. Justin Williams, the player who accidentally high-sticked Saku Koivu the other night, just thwacked Andrei Markov with a careless use of the stick. Again, it was nothing intentional, but Williams has to start taking some responsibility for his stick. He's swinging it around all over the place.
SECOND INTERMISSIONCarolina's Kevyn Adams tells HNIC's Scott Oake that referee Tim Peel disallowed the potential go-ahead goal because he ruled there was incidental contact with Montreal goalie Cristobal Huet. Judging by the replay, the Hurricanes have a fairly decent case, but it's all a moot point now. We're tied up 2-2 with 20 minutes to play, maybe more.
2ND PERIOD, 18:34We have some confusion. Rod Brind'Amour appears to count the go-ahead goal for Carolina, with referee Don Van Massenhoven pointing at the net in an animated fashion to symbolize a goal. But the other ref, Tim Peel, swiftly calls it off.. Why? Well, the best guess is that Brind'Amour was in the crease when the puck went in the net and was somewhat tangled up with Huet. But the puck was in the goal before the whistle went. I'll keep you posted when we hear more
2ND PERIOD, 15:15Cristobal Huet deserves full props for his role in the tying goal. Shortly before Souray's slapper beat Ward, Huet made a clutch breakaway save at the other end off Rod Brind'Amour while the Habs were on a 5-on-3 power play. He bailed out his penalty-killers big time.
2ND PERIOD, 12:15CAROLINA 2 MONTREAL 2 We have a tie game, folks. With Bret Hedican in the box serving a four-minute high-sticking penalty, Sheldon Souray fires a slapshot from the point to beat Ward and make for a whole new hockey game. Harry Neale says the shot came from 51-feet out. I won't argue
2ND PERIOD, 10:34Brutal. The Canadiens miss out on an amazing chance to tie it after botching a 3-on-1 rush. Garth Murray held the puck, flagged a cab, took a guided walking tour, and oh yeah, forgot about his teammates before making a lousy shot.
2ND PERIOD, 5:21CAROLINA 2 MONTREAL 1 Montreal pulls to within a goal and the Canadiens finally appear to be playing with a little emotion. Alexander Perezhogin pots his first career playoff marker on a pinball special. Francis Bouillon took the point shot and the puck appeared to hit Perezhogin's stick and possibly a Carolina stick before floating into the net. Ward didn't see it and didn't have a hope.
2ND PERIOD, 2:20When are they going to go back to good old lumber sticks? Sheldon Souray's high-tech stick shatters on a slapper from the point and Montreal misses out on a quality chance as a result.
2ND PERIOD, 1:03The first penalty of the game is called and it's somewhat puzzling. Carolina's Niclas Wallin gets the gate for putting his stick on the stick of another Habs player. Didn't really look like an infraction.
2ND PERIOD, 2:03The first penalty of the game is called and it's somewhat puzzling. Niclas Wallin gets the gate for putting his stick
FIRST INTERMISSIONEver see that Jim Carrey flick Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? In the movie, Carrey's character undergoes a procedure to erase memories of his old girlfriend after the relationship turns sour. The Habs need to order up one of those mind-erasing machines pronto after that stinker of a period.
1ST PERIOD, 17:22Full credit to Montreal fans. They're still making lots of noise and have just kicked into an "Ole" soccer chant. There hasn't been much to cheer about, though. The Habs have mustered only three shots to this point.
1ST PERIOD, 14:22The Canadiens look like a completely different team tonight. Flat is the appropriate word. They're being outplayed and outhustled all over the ice and are demonstrating none of the panache they had in the opening three contests. Bob Gainey better dish out his best Mr. Miyagi speech between periods or the Habs are likely going to be tastin' sand the rest of the evening.
1ST PERIOD, 11:33CAROLINA 2 MONTREAL 0 Wow. Two quick ones. Aaron Ward joins the rush and puts the Hurricanesup by a pair. Ward was able to streak in untouched and beat a sprawling Huet. The runnin' and gunnin' is working well tonight for Carolina. Justin Williams and Frantisek Kaberle draw the assists.
1ST PERIOD, 10:22CAROLINA 1 MONTREAL 0 Spoke too soon. Carolina opens the scoring on a Justin Williams marker. The Carolina forward wires a shot off the post that deflected off Mathieu Dandenault's back and into the Montreal net. Eric Staal and Doug Weight get the assists.
1ST PERIOD, 9:23We're nearing the midway mark of the period and there haven't been too many quality chances to speak of. Ouch - Montreal's Francis Bouillon just belted Mark Recchi with a crushing hit.
1ST PERIOD, 5:01Speaking of goaltending, anyone see Lightning coach John Tortorella toss his goalie John Grahame under the bus during yesterday's post-game media conference? Agreed, Grahame's play thus far has left something to be desired, but his Tampa Bay teammates haven't been much to write home about.
1ST PERIOD, 3:35Cam Ward has already made his first big stop of the night, stoning Mathieu Dandenault in close. He looks sharp, as does Cristobal Huet, who has also been sharp early. These young goaltenders may not have the notoriety of the Brodeurs and Turcos of the world, but they're fun to watch.
1ST PERIOD, 1:36Rod Brind'Amour is an absolute warrior.
The 35-year-old veteran has logged more ice time than any other player in this series. Even more than the defencemen. What a player.
3 MINUTES TO GAME TIMEThe Habs take to the ice and receive another electric ovation. Bell Centre fans are unrivalled in these playoffs.
5 MINUTES TO GAME TIMETurns out Radek Bonk will replace Saku Koivu on Montreal's top line tonight. Bonk will skate with Michael Ryder and Christopher Higgins. Defenceman Mark Streit has taken Koivu's roster spot, giving Canadiens coach Bob Gainey more blue-line depth to play with.