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Center of attention

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Fresh off his first career NHL Star of the Week honor, it didn’t take long for David Desharnais to once again play a starring role at the Bell Centre.

Having earned the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday with a six-point haul over his three previous outings, Desharnais picked up right where he left off on Tuesday opposite the Flyers.

That is, with an overtime goal to complete Montreal’s first season sweep of Philadelphia in nearly seven years to the date.

Despite the position he plays however, Desharnais’ own goal remains far from being the center of attention.

“It’s always fun to contribute, especially in overtime like that,” admitted the 28-year-old forward, who now counts two of the Canadiens’ four overtime markers this season, after also downing the Red Wings via the extra frame in October. “It’s easy to enjoy yourself when things are going well, but getting the win is always the most import thing for us.”

Although the Flyers took the lead just 51 seconds into the game – the quickest goal given up at the Bell Centre so far this season – and even held on to it through 52:38 minutes of play, the Canadiens’ strong third-period performances this year always favored the comeback.

“We’re playing a tough game night-in and night-out, we’re chipping pucks, we’re wearing the other teams down, and that’s why we’re often able to capitalize in the third, and also sometimes in overtime,” acknowledged the Laurier-Station, QC native, who has watched his team outscore opponents by a 65-41 margin in the final frame through 53 games this year.

Contrast that to a 23-39 aggregate goal deficit after the first 20, and it’s easy to see why the Habs have rarely said die in 2014-15.

“It was only a matter of time when you take as many shots as we did tonight. We missed a couple – they were blocking a lot – but we usually capitalize in the third and tonight was no different,” continued the five-foot-seven, 176-pounder, who fired two of the Canadiens’ 41 shots at Ray Emery over 19:19 of ice time, ringing another off the post in the first.

While it may have taken the NHL six seasons to recognize the determined center’s contributions, Desharnais’ teammates have been decidedly quicker in taking note of his on-ice talents.

“He reads the game as good as anybody. He’s so good. You can slip it into a hole for him for even one second and he’ll have a chance,” praised linemate Dale Weise, who has been reunited with Desharnais on the Canadiens’ top line since Saturday, the pair combining for nine points over the last three games. “You look at his goal tonight and the guy had him tied up, but he just finds a way to get his stick on it and put it upstairs. It was just a tremendous individual effort by him.”

Just like Weise & Co. can count on Desharnais to make the most out of any scoring opportunity these days, the first line center can likewise count on his linemates to do their part as he gets accustomed to finding the back of the net more often.

“I thought I hit the post again for a second but then I saw everybody celebrate so I guess it was in,” cracked the night's first star following just the latest sweet win this season.

Steven Nechay is a writer for

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