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Bending but not breaking

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – The 2015-2016 Montreal Canadiens - who presently sit alone atop the NHL standings with a record of 13-2-1 - have scored timely goals and protected leads this season, but one thing they haven’t experienced is trying to mount a third period comeback.

After a tough first period, in which Loui Eriksson opened the scoring for the Bruins, the Canadiens battled back to pull even buoyed by a power play goal from Tomas Plekanec.

“It was a tough first period, we took three penalties and they took control of the momentum of the game,” explained Plekanec, who tallied his 43rd career point against the Bruins, the most collected by any active member of the Canadiens roster. “We just had to put it all behind us and start over again. And we did. I thought we played very well in the second and third periods.”

Entering the third period facing a two goal deficit, the Canadiens fought resiliently to tie the game before Tomas Plekanec drew Bruins’ forward David Krejci into taking a late third period cross-checking penalty. With just two minutes remaining in the third period, David Desharnais picked up a loose puck in the crease off a hard shot from Alex Galchenyuk to put the Canadiens up 3-2.

“It wasn’t his best penalty, but at the same time we stayed focused during the game,” said Desharnais, whose game winning goal earned him the first star of Saturday night’s game. “We were hungry and we went hard after that big game winning goal. And we were able to get it.”

Canadiens’ goaltender Mike Condon was proud of the team’s performance, coming back to score three unanswered goals off 13 shots fired at Bruins’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson in the final frame.  

 “There was a lot going on. They were throwing a lot of pucks at the net and the guys just did a great job blocking shots and clearing the front of the net. Bending but not breaking going into the second period down one goal,” who turned aside 29 of the 31 Bruins’ shots he faced to preserve his league leading goals against average at 1.57. “That’s what happens when you roll four lines. We have a lot of energy and we’ve proven that we are a good third period team. We are a confident team going into the third period, and I think we proved that tonight.”

With the Bruins clinging to a one-goal lead in the third period, the Canadiens appeared to tie the game when Tomas Plekanec deposited a loose puck into the back of the net. Upon video review it was determined that Brendan Gallagher interfered with the Bruins’ netminder Gustavsson resulting in the goal being waved off. 

Though the game could have gone either way as a result, Plekanec was insistent that he never questioned Gallagher’s style of play, even for a minute. “Oh absolutely not. I told him right away just keep doing what you are doing. It is going to pay off. He’s great at his job and there’s no way we are going to tell him to change.”

Tonight’s game was a memorable one for the rookie goaltender, who surrendered a first period goal for the very first time in his NHL career. “It felt special for a number of reasons. That was the first time I’ve been in the net when we were trailing going into the third period. But the guys battled back which felt very special. And obviously playing against the team from where I am from made it extra special tonight,” said the Needham, Massachusetts native, who earned the victory in his first game against his hometown team. 

Heading into Saturday night’s contest the special team’s battle was listed by a number of players as one of the keys to victory.

The Bruins, whose lethal power play is clicking at a league best 33.3% opened the scoring Saturday night with the man advantage. The Canadiens responded in kind with two power play markers of their own, converting on two of their three power play opportunities in the game. At the culmination of Saturday night’s game Montreal and Boston occupied two of the top three power play units in the league. 

After a well-deserved day off Sunday, the Canadiens head to Pittsburgh where they will face the red hot Penguins Wednesday night. With only two games on tap next week, the Canadiens will have time to reflect on a successful week. 

“This week hasn’t really sunk in yet. I haven’t had a minute to think about it. And I don’t think I will spend a lot of time thinking about it. Just take a day off tomorrow to get away from the rink and attack next week on Monday,” expressed Condon, who has started the Canadiens last five consecutive games in relief of injured starter Carey Price.

“Tomorrow will be nice, I get to sleep in for once,” exclaimed Condon with a smile. 

- Jared Ostroff is a writer for canadiens.com


SEE ALSO
Postgame: Nov. 7
Game Highlights: Canadiens vs Bruins
Crazy good
Winning by committee
Weekly overview 
Benn, Price, Krejci named Stars of the Month

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