MONTREAL – After four games of searching, the Habs finally found the balanced attack they were looking for on Saturday.
Despite giving up an early goal just 1:33 into the first to former Hab Michael Cammalleri, the Canadiens bounced back with a trio of power play markers in the middle frame before erupting with three more at even strength in the third to seal a second win over the visiting Devils in as many games this season.
Scoring as many goals on Saturday as the team had over its four previous outings opposite New York, Washington, Arizona, and Buffalo combined, the offensive explosion was nevertheless an expected one for at least one Hab.
“I think we should replay my interview from this morning because I can read minds or something like that. I said we were going to score some power play goals and the floodgates opened there for us a little bit tonight,” cracked Dale Weise of his post-practice premonition on Saturday, himself potting a pair against New Jersey to continue adding to his career-high season totals.
Although the Habs appeared to get out to another slow start to start the game, the team still managed to set the tone in the first – despite the early Devils tally – at one point keeping New Jersey out of the shot column over a 15:03 span.
“We stayed even keeled no matter what. We knew we were going to have a better effort tonight and we didn’t let that [quick goal] faze us,” underlined Weise, who was back on the Canadiens' top line with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais for the first time since mid-January, a tri that combined for 10 shots and seven points on the night. “I think the shots were 15 to three after that so we had a good first period and kept it rolling from there.”
While the team enjoyed another strong defensive outing against the Devils, allowing just 23 shots on goal after also allowing 18 to the Sabres on Tuesday, this time a clicking power play was the difference maker.
Outshooting New Jersey by an 18 to seven margin but still trailing 1-0 midway through the second, the Habs would finally take advantage of the man advantage following a double-minor to Dainius Zubrus for high sticking on P.K. Subban to score a pair of power play goals over a span of 59 seconds.
“That was huge. That was the turning point of the game right there,” continued Weise. “We felt like we were getting chances but not scoring, but then we got those power play goals and it opened the game right up.”
In addition to drawing the penalty which would turn the tide in the Habs’ favor on Saturday, Subban also picked up assists on all three of the Canadiens’ power play goals.
“It’s always good to score on the power play. We know how tough it can be at times,” admitted the game’s first star, who has racked up six points over two games against the Devils this season. “It’s not easy, especially in the second half of the season when teams really try to bear down, but I think we did a lot of things well. We moved ourselves, we moved the puck, and we put the puck on net when we had to. Our focus from the start of the game was to try to generate as many shots as we could; in the first period we had 15, and in the second we had 30.”
Although you wouldn’t know it from the scoresheet, Subban also finished the game with an open cut in his mouth after absorbing the accidental high-stick from Zubrus, opting stay on the ice without getting stitches.
“He wanted to stay out there bad. I know he had some pretty choice words for the ref there about staying on and we made it happen,” praised Weise of the Habs’ assistant captain. “I don’t think our power play gets enough credit – it wins a lot of games for us in key moments.”
Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com
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