Marinaro: Habs come through to save coach from infamy

Tony Marinaro
12/28/2011 1:56:02 PM
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Going into the game versus the Ottawa Senators, Randy Cunneyworth had lost his first four games as Habs Head Coach. No coach in Montreal Canadiens history has ever lost his first five games behind the bench. It's a record Randy Cunneyworth didn't want. Well, he doesn't have to worry. The Canadiens rewarded the coach with a 6-2 win against his former team on Tuesday night.

Many positives coming out of the game. It starts with goaltender Carey Price, who made 33 saves. It was another great performance by Erik Cole. He scored his team-leading sixth powerplay goal and 14th goal of the season. The Canadiens winger has been stellar the past two months. He gives 100 percent every shift. His work ethic is commendable. The third star on the night was Habs defenceman Raphael Diaz. He picked up three assists in the first period alone. It was the first time a Montreal Canadiens rookie defenceman picked up three assists in a game, since Mathieu Schneider did it back in 1990.

Honorable mention also goes out too: Lars Eller. He was a healthy scratch in Winnipeg and responded to the coach's message. He scored a shorthanded goal, had three shots, two hits and was 56 percent in the faceoff circle. PK Subban, also a healthy scratch in Winnipeg, bounced back as well. He scored a goal, picked up an assist, and was a plus-2. Great contributions also came courtesy of Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Mathieu Darche and Louis Leblanc. They had two points apiece.

The Canadiens finished strong. They entered the third period with a 5-2 lead and didn't sit back. They outshot Ottawa 7-6 in the final frame. They outchanced them and scored the only goal of the third. They weren't passive, they were aggressive. Slowly but surely, Cunneyworth is putting his stamp on this team.

The road trip continues as the Canadiens face the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Guy Boucher's squad is coming off a huge 5-1 win over Philadelphia. However, they will be without defenceman Victor Hedman. He was injured on Tuesday and is day to day. Two points separate the two teams. Montreal has 35, Tampa 33. It will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs. The teams split their matchups last season.

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