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Cristobal Huet recorded his seventh shutout of the season and third straight against the Bruins on Saturday night as the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins faint playoff hopes with a 2-0 victory.
With both teams struggling offensively for the first twenty minutes Garth Murray and Dan Lacouture decided to drop their gloves in an attempt to spark their respective teams. Lacouture landed the first few punches but Murray retaliated with a couple of hooks that eventually forced the Bruins tough guy off his skates and too the ice.
The first goal of the game was not scored until the final four minutes of the second period. Mark Streit who led the Canadiens in ice time through two periods sent a tape to tape pass to Alexander Perezhogin. Perezhogin flipped the puck over to his line mate Garth Murray who carried the puck to the front of the net and slipped his shot under Tim Thomas’ right arm.
As the second period was winding down Hal Gill was caught flat footed and forced to haul down Tomas Plekanec. The Bruins began the third period one man down but Mark Stuart and Andrew Alberts would further complicate things as they were both whistled for minor penalties providing the Canadiens with an extended two man advantage. Fortunately for the Bruins Tim Thomas was able to stop all eight Canadiens shots to keep the Bruins in the game.
The Canadiens extended their lead just seven minutes and seven seconds into the third period. Tomas Plekanec won a race for the puck to negate an icing call; Plekanec maintained control of the puck and slid a pass to Craig Rivet. Rivet sent a wrist shot towards the net that was deflected by none other than Garth Murray for his second goal of the game and sixth career NHL goal.
Garth Murray played the majority of the final two minutes as Canadiens coach Bob Gainey allowed the Regina naïve an opportunity to score a hat trick.
Canadiens healthy scratches : Todd Simpson, Niklas Sundstrom and Jan Bulis.
Injuries: Francis Bouillon (ankle)
Bruins injuries: Brian Leetch (facial), Nick Boynton (shoulder), Glen Murray (illness)
On a positive note for the Canadiens the Tampa Bay Lightning surrendered two points to the Florida Panthers and thus are no longer tied with the Devils and Canadiens for sixth. The Atlanta Thrashers picked up another win and find themselves only five points out of the playoffs. In what must have been a disheartening night for the Leafs they beat the Sabers 7-0 but still find themselves in eleventh place in the conference and seven points out of the playoffs. The Devils won consecutive afternoon games against the Flyers and Penguins to move them into sole possession of the sixth place.
1. G. Murray
2. C. Huet
3. T. Thomas
1. After only scoring a single goal in his first 39 NHL games Garth Murray has scored four times in his last nine games.
2. Cristobal Huet is the now the leader among NHL goalies in goals against average at 2.06 and improved his save percentage to .933 which is currently a Canadiens record. Huet also trails Calgary’s Mikka Kiprusoff by just a single shutout despite playing less than half as many games.
3. The Bruins seem to be the Canadiens whipping boys as the Habs have ended the Bruins season three times in four seasons.
4. Despite having the NHL’s 6th best power plays the Canadiens have just a single power play goal in their last 22 opportunities.