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Staal: 'It's only the beginning'

Dominique Ducharme, Ben Chiarot, Tyler Toffoli, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Eric Staal met the media on Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

VEGAS - The Canadiens held an off-ice workout on Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena.

Following the session, interim head coach Dominique Ducharme fielded questions from the media.

He was followed by Ben Chiarot, Tyler Toffoli, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Eric Staal.

Here are a few highlights from their respective chats:

Ducharme on the impact of the crowd at T-Mobile Arena:

"In a way, it was sort of a trip back in time for us. They're a team that feeds on the energy of their fans a lot. It's a loud crowd. We felt it in the second period. I think it gave them a boost. That's part of what it means to play on the road. We've good on the road, especially in the playoffs. We know what to expect for the next game. We hope to come back to Montreal and have a good crowd that will support us and give us energy."

Video: Dominique Ducharme on the depth at his disposal

Ducharme on what the Canadiens have been missing the most with Jeff Petry out of the lineup for Game 1 against Vegas:

"He's one of our best defensemen. Regardless of which team we're playing, Jeff is a guy who skates well and moves the puck well. He defends well in our own end. He's one of the better defensemen in the NHL, and he's an important player for us. We'll only find out more about his status tomorrow after warmups. He's going to skate today and take part in the morning skate tomorrow. We're going to see how he progresses; same goes for Jake Evans and Jon Merrill."

Chiarot on playing in front of a full house for the first time this season:

"Oviously, the crowd last night was great; it creates an incredible atmosphere. There's nothing like a Bell Centre crowd. The more fans we can have, the better. We'll be happy with that when we're back in Montreal."

Video: Stanley Cup Semifinals: Chiarot

Chiarot on building off the Habs' strong starts:

"I liked the way we started; I liked the way we came out. That's something that's been a strength of ours throughout the playoffs, is our starts. I would start with that and try and keep that rolling forward throughout the game."

Toffoli on how to counter the Golden Knights' blue-liners:

"I think we just have to stay over top of their defense when we're forechecking. Don't let them jump past us. It's kind of similar to how Toronto played. I thought, as the series went on against Toronto, we did a good job and kind of took them out of the play. We just all have to play better, play faster. If we're playing as a group and playing as one, it takes away all their speed."

Video: Stanley Cup Semifinals: Toffoli & Kotkaniemi

Toffoli on the importance of scoring the first goal:

"When you're playing with the lead, it obviously makes the game a lot easier. We definitely had some really good opportunities. The entire first period, I thought, that was our best period. Fleury made some, some big saves for them. But, playing with the lead is huge - especially to be on the road. So, I think that's going to be one of the key things for tomorrow, is to have another good start and just capitalize on our opportunities."

Kotkaniemi on the need to neutralize the Vegas defensemen:

"We need to be ready. We knew they were going to do that. They have a lot of offensive-minded D. So, we need to be ready all the time. We know there are guys jumping in, so we just need to be aware of that."

Kotkaniemi on the Canadiens' strong start:

"We had a good start last night. For sure our team, I think we had the confidence after those seven wins. I think we felt good in the first period; we just couldn't keep that up through the other two. But, I think it was a good lesson for us. I think we will be better and more ready for the next game."

Staal on the impact of having fans in T-Mobile Arena for Game 1:

"The atmosphere and the energy - of the playoffs especially - is the best. Last night, it was the first time for a lot of us in a very long time playing in front of a full building. It was phenomenal. Obviously, the Bell Centre is a place where that energy is huge for the home team. I've experienced it as a visitor; I obviously haven't experienced it as much as I've wanted to as a home player. But, going home here soon, we're hoping to have it as full as we can. That energy is huge for the home team and that energy is great for us players. We're making steps in Canada with the vaccine and all that kind of stuff. The more the merrier for us, no question. It's a huge momentum-changer and it's a big boost for the home teams."

Video: Stanley Cup Semifinals: Staal

Staal on the adjustments the Canadiens need to make with regards to the Golden Knights' defensemen:

"I think there are adjustments that can be made. Overall, we didn't get the W, so there are always things you look at to improve on. They were an important part of their Game 1 victory. There were two plays off faceoffs I'm sure we'll look at and try and clean up as best we can. Every little play is important. You have to make sure you're engaged and ready. And as much as we can be physical and hard on their defense, we're going to try and do. It's only the beginning, but we have to try and be better in Game 2."

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