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Golden opportunity blown by CH. Panthers 1, Canadiens 0.
Can't convert two-man advantage late in third period
RED FISHER, The Gazette
Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Guy Carbonneau sits there trying to think of answers to questions he's been hearing over and over again since the Christmas break - the start of a slide that has dropped them from challenging for first place in the East to No. 8 and, perhaps, lower.

"We didn't score a goal. One step forward ... two steps back ... you have to work twice as hard to get back to where you want to be," he said after this 1-0 loss to the No. 14 Florida Panthers.

And oh yes, there were suggestions about players squeezing sticks too hard, and so on and so forth - but the real question is: What do you do with a team trailing by only one goal that's presented with a 5-on-3 for five ticks of the clock short of a full two minutes - and still comes up with empty pockets?

Fewer than six minutes remained, with Ed Belfour in the midst of stopping the 16 shots he was to face in the third period, when defenceman Alexei Semenov was caught hooking. Five seconds later, he was joined by Stephen Weiss, with a delay-of -game minor.

The Canadiens had three shots while enjoying the two-man advantage and, as it developed, didn't even have the luxury of the full 1:55, when Saku Koivu was assessed a minor with 20 seconds remaining in the tasty 5-on-3 dish.

Go figure.

Is it because they took on the No. 14 Panthers without Alex Kovalev, who has a bad elbow? Was it because they were without Craig Rivet, who was at home with pneumonia? Could it be because they were missing Mike Johnson, the best addition to the team this season, who had the flu?

That explanation could carry a little weight on most nights, but not any time the Canadiens and Panthers have met this season.
Give the Panthers, who aren't likely to have a sniff of the playoffs, full credit for delivering 100 cents on the dollar.

Send a bouquet of posies to Florida goalie Belfour, who made 29 stops. But the Canadiens knew what kind of a team they were facing, and couldn't put a point on the board - or in the net.

What you saw last night, if you want to believe it, was the first goal between these teams in 101:16 minutes at the Bell Centre. The last time they met, the teams battled through a scoreless regulation and overtime before the Canadiens won it in the shootout.

And if you're still counting, the Canadiens have scored only two goals against the Panthers in their four meetings this season.


Neither team is prepared to give up much or, perhaps more accurately, don't have much to deliver offensively.

They came as advertised last night with suffocating hockey through the the first two periods, the only goal coming after some shoddy work around the Canadiens crease.

Canadiens defenders had two chances to ease the pressure around Cristobal Huet, but somehow couldn't gain control of a bouncing puck. Defenceman Bouwmeester eventually jumped on it for the goal.

There are a lot of things the Canadiens aren't doing properly, of course, as they sink deeper in the race to The Second Season. If they've been feeling the pressure in recent weeks, there's more to come now that they're sitting in the last available playoff spot, with the Maple Leafs and Islanders only two points behind and each with a game in hand.


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Great article. It pretty much says what all habs fans are thinking. Like Kovy said the habs are playing scared. Carbo benches all the wrong people, maybe he should let Muller make the lines and start benching players because he doesn't seem to know what he’s doing.

Who can I blame next? I've already went through the players and the coaches! Gainey you're next, be afraid. ;)
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