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Fine finish

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – The Canadiens didn’t get off to the start they were looking for on Monday night, but they certainly closed out the Vancouver Canucks in style.

Down 3-0 with just over half the game in the books, Michel Therrien’s troops rallied with four straight goals to register a 4-3 overtime victory at the Bell Centre. The win snapped the Habs’ two-game winless skid, and definitely made their most recent loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night a thing of the past.

Lars Eller got the ball rolling for the CH with a short-handed tally at 8:40 of the second period, before Max Pacioretty cut the Canucks’ lead to 3-2 less than three minutes later. Tomas Fleischmann – who was playing in his 600th career NHL game – scored the equalizer with 3:08 remaining in regulation time, and David Desharnais finished things off at the 3:25 mark of overtime.

“It was a tough start for us, but I thought that Lars Eller’s goal gave us a lot of life. We kept pushing that pace. I really liked the character of our team because we competed really hard. We deserved to win,” offered Therrien, whose squad outshot Willie Desjardins’ contingent by a 36-26 margin on Monday night, including 27-15 following the opening frame. “I see it as a character win. It’s rare that you’re able to make a comeback down by three goals. The guys were able to get it done.”

Given what transpired the last time these two teams met in Vancouver on October 27th, it’s safe to say the Canadiens desperately wanted to give the Canucks a taste of their own medicine. It was anything but easy, but all that matters is that they accomplished their objective.

“It was important [to win this game]. We’d rather be up 3-0, of course. I think it’s the first time this season we came back from being down more than one or two goals. It’s very satisfying. It builds character in the room and it builds confidence,” shared Eller, who scored his sixth goal of the season on Monday night, getting the rally started by beating Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom with a wrister glove-side. “You don’t think about scoring three. You just think about scoring one. Once it’s 3-1, there’s a lot of game left. It doesn’t seem as much if you’re thinking one goal at a time.”

Desharnais shared similar thoughts after scoring his third game-winning goal in his last five games, a marker that allowed the Canadiens to hit the 30-point plateau alongside the New York Rangers atop the NHL standings.

“We didn’t give up. It all started with a big short-handed goal. They were all big goals, but that one got things going. We didn’t look back after that,” explained Desharnais, who now boasts six goals on his resume during the 2015-16 campaign. “They capitalized on our bad start. We won’t be perfect every time, but we’re capable of picking ourselves right back up.”

It’s safe to say that trademark resiliency was on full display against Vancouver. Nevertheless, the Canadiens are well aware that putting themselves in these types of comeback situations on a regular basis isn’t necessarily a recipe for long-term success.

“It’s satisfying, but there’s a lot of stuff that we wish we could take back. At the beginning of the game, we didn’t come out strong. We were flat early. We showed a lot of character in the way we came back, though. Lars’ goal jump-started our offense, and then we took it over from there and played our game,” confided Pacioretty, who now leads the Canadiens with nine goals through 19 games this season. “It’s definitely satisfying getting the win, but we know we have to play 60 minutes. We didn’t tonight.”

But, they did a lot of good things along the way that made the win possible. Even if the power play didn’t generate a goal, it wreaked havoc in the offensive zone every time out, and the Canadiens got contributions up and down the lineup along the way, too, en route to posting their 14th win of the year.

“We’re a confident group. We manage the puck really well. We’ve got a good net presence. We got a lot of chances on the power play. We could have scored a few goals. The guys are playing with a lot of confidence,” concluded Therrien, whose team will return to practice on Wednesday morning on the South Shore ahead of Thursday night’s tilt against the Arizona Coyotes in Montreal. “There’s really good chemistry between those three guys [David, Tomas and Dale]. We saw the chemistry right away. In Fleischmann’s case, it’s really good for his confidence. He had some trouble early scoring goals. I thought he reacted well against Vancouver. You could sense he was very energetic. That line was solid. They made a lot of good things happen.”

And, in the end, they sent the Bell Centre faithful home very, very happy.

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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