As the seconds wound down at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, the boo-birds sang loud and clear as the Canadiens failed to win at home for the 14th time this season, falling 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues. But as the Habs glided off the ice, those who had not left stood for a rousing ovation, saluting the man with the highest winning percentage in the history of the Bell Centre, Jaroslav Halak.
In his first game back to Montreal since being traded away to St. Louis after the 2010 season, Halak stopped all 19 shots the Canadiens threw at him, including just seven in the third period. It was only the third time the Blues had ever earned a shut-out in Montreal.
Halak, who has split time this season with Brian Elliot, earned his tenth win and second shut-out of the season.
The Blues received goals from Jason Arnott (10) and David Backes (14) in the second, before Chris Stewart (10) iced it in the third.
Despite a light work load, Halak was steady when called upon, stopping Tomas Plekanec's short-handed breakaway in the first period and then stacking the pads half-way through the third to make this stop on Mathieu Darche, perhaps his best of the night.
After serving as Montreal's full-time back-up in 2008-09, his first opportunity to stick in the NHL, Halak stole the starting job away from an ineffective Carey Price the following spring, leading the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens to their first Eastern Conference Final since 1993.
Halak and the Canadiens took down the top-seeded Washington Capitals and then the Pittsburgh Penguins, before running out of steam against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Canadiens then re-dedicated themselves to Price, sending Halak to St. Louis while his stock was at its highest.
Halak took a step back in 2010-2011, with only one more win than the season before despite twelve more starts, and with his GAA and Save % both falling off slightly as the Blues missed the post-season.
But with Ken Hitchcock's attention to details on defense, as well as the rejuvenation of Elliot's career, Halak has become half of one of the NHL's best goaltending tandems.
While the Blues have responded to Hitchcock, now 19-5-5 under his guidance, the Habs are 3-7 under new bench boss Randy Cunneyworth and have dropped from two points out of playoff contention to six points out since his take-over. That's bad in any language.
And while the Canadiens continue to fumble and stumble down the Eastern Conference ladder, the fans stood and applauded a not-so-subtle reminder of what their team looked like two springs ago. Gritty, determined, and disciplined. A team that lost defenseman like Markov, Spacek, and Gorgesfor parts of the post-season, leaned on Jaro Halak and found success.
And as Halak took a spin around the ice to acknowledge his former city, one could only cast a disparaging glance at those in Bleu Blanc et Rouge leaving the ice and face a harsh realization.
There is no player on which this team can lean. And barring drastic changes, as Halak's Blues continue to rise, the Habs will continue to sink.
Jaroslav Halak‘s triumphant return to Montreal was everything he could have hoped for. He got into town early so he could visit his favorite Montreal Establishment (to get all the poison out) before the game and it clearly showed. Yes the punchless Canadian’s only made him make 19 saves, but Halak had a little thing called Karma on his side… Or something… Your...
With a little push from his St. Louis Blues teammates, Jaroslav Halak once again basked in the glow of a first star selection at the Bell Centre. Halak got the shutout in his first game back in Montreal and St. Louis extended its winning streak to four with a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Back by popular demand, here are your Puck Previews: Spotlighting the key games in NHL action, news and views as well as general frivolity. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
David Aebischer may be with the Winnipeg Jets' AHL affiliate, but his mask is inspired by the big club, as well as Canadian history. From In Goal Magazine...
Jaroslav Halak was part of a potent goaltending tandem in Montreal, but he was the one who led the Canadiens on an unlikely playoff run two seasons ago.
A few weeks later, he was gone.
Now part of a dominant duo in St. Louis, Halak will be in net Tuesday night as his surging Blues make their first trip to Montreal since acquiring him via trade.
The Canadiens had a pair of promising...
Jaroslav Halak got the shutout in his first game back in Montreal and the St. Louis Blues extended their winning streak to four with a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday night.
David Backes and Chris Stewart each had a goal and an assist, and Jason Arnott also scored for St. Louis, which got a shutout from Brian Elliott in a 4-0 win at Colorado on Saturday night.
Here is a disturbing thought for the immediate rivals of the St. Louis Blues: This team is only now beginning to play to its full ability.Never mind all those one-goal victories Ken Hitchcock racked up after taking over as coach. That was just the warm-up act.This team – the one that skated over the Canadiens 3-0 in Montreal Tuesday night – is the one the rest of the National...
First off, condolences to the family of Ron Caron. A legend in Montreal, St. Louis, and beyond.
And so, it was fitting that Montreal and St. Louis played on Tuesday night. Or, should I say St. Louis, as Montreal didn’t show up.
This team is as Jekyll and Hyde as the 2009 Habs - a team led by Jaroslav Halak, who defeated this year’s Canadiens on Tuesday night.
I just can’t...
This is a big week, folks. And it’s not just because Van Halen’s new single comes out - thank God David Lee Roth is back - nope, it’s a big week because the Canadiens playoff hopes hinge on the next three weeks, and they need to string some wins together. Two in a row is good, but it doesn’t equal playoffs. As I see it, to get back into it, they need to win 7 of 10. And heck...
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