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Coming up clutch

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BUFFALO – If P.-A. Parenteau has quickly carved out his niche since arriving in Montreal during the offseason, then he’s done it by sticking to what he’s always done best: coming up clutch when it matters most.

First it was in Philadelphia, and then in Calgary. Now add Buffalo to that list.

Wrapping up the team’s third back-to-back set of the season, Parenteau had his number called once again to seal the deal in a shootout, and the newest member of the Habs didn’t disappoint.

“Good things happen when you have confidence heading into the shootout,” explained the veteran forward who has now converted on 14 of 28 career shootout attempts, in addition to netting seven game-deciding goals in the tie-breaking frame. “The same thing happened to me a couple of years ago. I didn’t miss over a couple of attempts in a row. It’s once you lose that confidence that you stop scoring. I hope to hang onto it moving forward.”

It wasn’t always pretty, as Parenteau opened the scoring early in the third before Drew Stafford quickly replied with the equalizer in an otherwise tight, physical game, but it’s hard to argue with a win.

“Sometimes, you go through these phases where it seems like nothing works anymore,” admitted the 31-year-old Hull native. “You get a little discouraged and lose your confidence offensively. You start giving up the puck more easily. We’ve all been guilty of it, but tonight we were able to bounce back.”

Coming off a pair of disappointing outings against Calgary and Chicago, it was likewise easy for head coach Michel Therrien to see the positives in Wednesday’s shootout victory. Held to just three goals in regulation time over the last three games, the Habs bench boss nevertheless insists that the score sheet didn't paint the entire picture in Buffalo.

“I really liked the way we played tonight. We had a lot of quality chances even if we didn’t capitalize on all of them,” noted Therrien. “We got back to basics and played tight hockey which created a lot of scoring opportunities. I liked the work a lot of our guys put in tonight while playing their second game in 48 hours. It was nice to see.”

Parenteau himself, meanwhile, might be the definition of keeping things basic with the game on the line.

“I scored with that same [shootout] move a couple of years ago, and I don’t have many other ones. I just have the two, actually, that I alternate between,” cracked the former Avalanche winger. “I try not to look where I’m going to shoot and it worked.”

While whatever moves Parenteau may or may not have in the shootout are all his, the first-year Hab was also able to count on some new helping hands within his supporting staff through the first 65 minutes on Wednesday.

Flanking David Desharnais on the first line opposite Max Pacioretty as Therrien looked to jump-start his offense on the road, the seventh-year NHLer wasn’t shy to share his thoughts coming out of the experience.

“It’s fun to play with those guys,” offered Parenteau, whose line combined for 12 of the Canadiens' 32 total shots against the Sabres. “We were all over the Buffalo net during the first and third periods, and we were able to score a goal. I loved playing with them.”

Which in the end, is just how Therrien chalked it up.

“That line was really good,” acknowledged the 51-year-old. “They were moving the puck well, skating hard, and they were rewarded for it with a big goal from Parenteau. I liked their intensity, but there wasn’t a lot I didn’t like about our team tonight. I thought they played a solid game.”

Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com


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