RALEIGH -- The Canadiens kept their promise to Charlie Lindgren on Thursday.
Pregame, Brendan Gallagher’s vow was clear: “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure it’s a positive night for him.”
And true to their word, the entire team pitched in to help the 22-year-old earn his first NHL win in his first NHL start.
“I thought that was the best game our young D core has played. With recoveries, it seemed like if someone got beat, their defensive partner would bail them out with good sticks,” underlined captain Max Pacioretty, who picked up a goal and an assist in the 4-2 effort. “We were bailing each other out mostly in the back, and it could have been that everybody wanted to get the win for Lindy.”
With most of his family in attendance, the Lakeville, MN native was appreciative of the support on his memorable 26-save night.
“A lot of credit goes to the team in front of me -- them blocking shots and grabbing sticks -- they played a fabulous game in front of me,” acknowledged Lindgren, whose first NHL start initially began with his first NHL goal-against on his first NHL shot faced. “There were definitely some nerves there, I’m not going to lie about it. I just tried to be as calm as possible after that first goal went in. I really wasn’t rattled, I put it behind me and focused on the next shot.”
That cool and calm demeanor came just as advertised for head coach Michel Therrien.
“His competitiveness is one of the reasons our scouts liked him,” revealed the Canadiens bench boss, who started a fifth goaltender this season for the first time since 2001-02. “He wasn’t affected [by that early goal]. In fact, it made him bounce back in the right way.”
Added Pacioretty: “He played well and made some big saves late. I think that says a lot about his mentality and the type of player he is.”
As special as the evening was for the first-time NHLer, Darren Dietz also enjoyed a night to remember in Raleigh, scoring his first goal with the Canadiens in just his 12th game, to tie things up at 1-1 with 10 seconds left in the opening frame.
“It’s a great experience. It’s something that you dream about as a kid, so it was a special moment,” admitted the Medicine Hat, AB native, even if he stressed that his teammates did all of the heavy lifting.
“I saw Patch and Gally attacking with the puck, and when those two have it, special things happen pretty often. I just tried to make myself available and those two have a real knack for getting the puck to the open guy. After I got it, it was just a matter of getting the puck on net.”
In fact, Dietz insisted he already has some points he’d like to work on in the next one, partially shouldering the blame for the game’s opening goal.
“I need to do a better job on the one-on-one battles. The plays start in the corners, so I felt I owed him that one.”
Even if that were true, you can bet Thursday’s winning goaltender won’t be holding a grudge any time soon.
“Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have expected to be here right now. Two weeks ago I was playing for St. Cloud State and now I just got my first NHL win. It’s unbelievable,” concluded Lindgren. “I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet.”
Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com SEE ALSOGame Highlights: Canadiens vs. HurricanesSafety first A night to remember
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