WINNIPEG – Coming off a pair of 4-1 wins in Edmonton and Vancouver, the Habs are looking to go back-to-back-to-back on Tuesday to close out their marathon road trip on a high note.
Having collected four out of a possible six points so far on the team’s longest trip of the year, the Canadiens have had some early success on the road this season. With just one game standing between the Habs and the final flight of the nine-day voyage, Lars Eller is ready to leave Winnipeg with nothing but good memories from his time out west.
“It’s been a long road trip and now we all want to round it off in a good way before we get back home,” admitted Eller, who has four goals and five assists in five career games against the Jets. “Everybody is excited to get back home but we want to finish it off the right way. It’ll make it that much better if we win tonight.”
The Habs will also have a chance to build on their impressive special teams performance on the road trip against Winnipeg. About to face the league’s most penalized team on home ice, the Canadiens are carrying the NHL’s second-ranked road power play unit into the MTS Centre, currently clicking at a 50% efficiency rate. Up against a rugged Jets team that leads the NHL with 124 hits on home ice, Michel Therrien isn’t expecting a warm welcome from his hosts on Tuesday night.
“They play a defensive game and they’re a good team; they’re not an easy team to play against,” offered the Habs head coach, who is 3-0 against the Jets v2.0 in his career. “They aren’t the type of team that’s going to give you a lot of room out there. The atmosphere in this building is also excellent. It’s never easy playing in this building. They have great fan support, but I’m sure we’ll have some fans here, too. I’m expecting an intense one tonight.”
Catapulting themselves into fourth in the conference with their inspired play throughout the road swing, the Habs are hoping to ride that momentum all the way back to Montreal with a win to close out the trip.
“To move up in the standings, obviously it’s really early, but points on the line are always important,” explained Gallagher, who has a goal and an assist in three road games so far this season. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on this game tonight. We know they’re going to come out strong in their building. The key for us is we’ve been getting better every game. We’ve been learning and improving every game and that’s something we need to continue to do tonight.”
With a pair of wins and plenty of team bonding in the bank since leaving Montreal on Oct. 7, Therrien is happy with what he’s seen from his troops on the road so far. But with one game left to play and a chance to go 3-1 on the road on the line, he’s not ready to head back to his home time zone batting .500 for the trip.
“For the new guys, it’s given them a chance to bond with the group from last year and get to know their teammates better. It’s nice to be able to have a trip like this at the beginning of the season,” he explained. “It really helps build team spirit, but that also grows even stronger when you win.
“As of right now, we’re satisfied with how the trip has gone for us, but tonight’s game will be the difference between whether this is a good trip or a great trip for us,” stressed Therrien. “We have a chance to win three of our four games and that’s our goal tonight.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSO
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