NHL: Montreal Canadiens open 100th season

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Montreal Canadiens will use the 100th anniversary logo all season.

The Montreal Canadiens, the oldest and most successful National Hockey League team, played their 100th home opener against Original Six rivals the Boston Bruins on the night of October 15, 2008. The Canadiens won the game in a shootout, 4-3.

Pre-Game Ceremonies

During the opening ceremonies the Canadiens brought out 12 Hall of Famers onto the ice. The players were Emile "Butch" Bouchard, Elmer Lach, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, Bob Gainey, Guy Lapointe, Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson and Dick Duff. While they were on the ice, the Canadiens unveiled a new installation in their home arena, the Bell Centre: a "ring of honour" that stretched around the top of the entire arena above the last row of seats, depicting in a mural the 54 former Montreal Canadiens who are now in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bouchard and Lach, the two oldest Canadiens Hall of Famers, were chosen to drop the ceremonial puck to start the game.

The Game

Barely two minutes into the game, newly acquired enforcer Georges Laraque got into his first fight as a Canadien, fighting Scott Thornton. Both players were given five-minute majors for the incident.

Montreal opened the scoring with three quick goals in the first period. Alexei Kovalev scored first on the power play, collecting a rebound off his own shot 15 minutes into the game, and scoring from the crease. Team captain Saku Koivu scored less than two minutes later by stuffing a loose puck from the side of the net. Another two minutes after that, Maxim Lapierre scored a short-handed goal to give the Canadiens a three-goal lead.

But after that, it was all Boston as the Bruins would hold an advantage in shots in every period thereafter. David Krejci scored in the second period, and it would have been more except for some terrific saves by Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

In the third period, Marc Savard struck twice, first on a power play goal seven minutes into the frame. Then in the last minute of regulation, Price was fooled by a fluke bounce off the boards, and Savard easily guided the puck into the vacated net to tie the game.

There was little action in the extra frame, leading to a shootout. Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, and former Canadien Michael Ryder were designated for the Bruins, while Andrei Markov and Alex Tanguay replied for the Habs. Tanguay scored the only goal, ensuring that Montreal's 100th home opener would go down as a victory for the home team.

Future Celebrations

The Canadiens will continue to celebrate their 100th year all season long, with future highlights expected to be the retiring of former Habs great Patrick Roy's number 33 in November, and the NHL all-star game in January. As well, the Canadiens are considered to be strong contenders for the Stanley Cup this season, so it is possible the Bell Centre will see one more celebration in June.