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Captain clutch

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Whatever Brian Gionta did to recharge over the All-Star break seems to have worked like a charm.

After scoring both of his team’s goals in regulation before sealing the deal in the shootout against the Capitals on Tuesday night, the Canadiens’ captain played the hero again against the Panthers the next night. So just what did Gionta do with his six days away from the rink?

“I just enjoyed some time with the family at Mont Tremblant and relaxed. It seemed to do the trick,” said the smiling winger, after picking up his team-leading 19th goal of the season. “Things are bouncing the right way for me, but ultimately, it’s the overall play of the team that’s making the difference. We need to keep that momentum because we’re doing the right things.”

Check out Brian Gionta's game-winner
Part of Gionta’s surge in the past two games could have something to do with the speedy Czech center currently anchoring his line. A goal-catalyst for every winger he’s played with so far this year, Tomas Plekanec has his own theory on the impact his captain has on the team.

“You can see that when he scores goals, we win games,” confirmed Plekanec, who is second behind only Gionta with three game-winners to date. “Gio is playing great. He came out strong from the All-Star break and that’s what we need from him. Hopefully we can keep it going as long as possible. We need to keep grinding and keep winning and we’ll be all good.”

If anyone watching Gionta’s clutch performances of late has been surprised by the 30-year-old’s play, P.K. Subban isn’t one of them. The rookie blue-liner knows he still has a lot to learn in his first NHL season, but luckily for Subban, his perfect role model has a stall right across from him in the Canadiens dressing room.

“Playing with him last year, you know that he always steps up when we need him,” underlined Subban, who was with the team for 19 playoff games last spring. “We expect that out of him and he expects it from himself. That’s why he’s our captain.

“He leads by example and he’s the perfect guy for a young guy like me to watch and learn from,” he added. “He’s well-respected and the guys love watching him. The leaders are leading and that’s what we need.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

See also:
Postgame comments: Martin | Plekanec | Auld | Gionta | Subban
The Numbers Game - Feb 2, 2011 
Canadiens 3, Panthers 2
Plekanec earns Molson Cup honour for January 

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