MONTREAL – It wasn’t easy, but the Canadiens managed to send another one of the league’s top teams packing on Tuesday night.
After besting the New York Islanders over the weekend, Michel Therrien’s troops downed the Western Conference powerhouse Nashville Predators 2-1 in overtime at the Bell Centre, coming together in the final frame despite being outshot by a 28-13 margin through nearly 40 straight minutes of lacklustre play.
“The first half of the game belonged to the Predators. They were a very fast and determined group. They were tough to play against. You have to give them a lot of credit. But, between the second and third periods, I talked about attitude with the guys. Everything starts from there. We changed our attitude in the third period. We managed to score. We just beat two great teams. That’s what I’ll remember,” explained Therrien, whose club finally managed to beat Predators netminder Carter Hutton at the 2:02 mark of the third period as Alex Galchenyuk lit the lamp for the 12th time this season, tying the score at one on the power play. “In my mind, everything starts with your attitude. You need to have a good attitude to be able to start games off the right way and perform.”Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Whatever Therrien told his players during the second intermission definitely hit home. The Canadiens were a different team in the last 20 minutes of regulation time, peppering Hutton with 12 shots en route to forcing an extra frame.
“You win a game by playing a full 60 minutes. We needed 65 against Nashville. We didn’t quit. We knew we didn’t do many good things during the first two periods, but for the third we realized a few things,” offered Galchenyuk, who is now just one goal shy of matching the career-high mark of 13 goals he set last season. “We were playing at home. It was our last game before the break. We knew we had to pick it up. We came out throwing more pucks at the net. We got our bounces. Our power play clicked. We’re happy about it.”
And, with good reason. While their inability to find the back of the net with the man advantage has essentially been the talk of the town all season long, it has come on strong as of late, going 7-for-18 over the last four games.
“We want the power play to be clicking at the right time. There are times when you need a goal badly. When we needed to score in the past, we scored. It says a lot about our team and the guys in here,” stressed Subban, who scored the game-winning goal with 52 seconds remaining in overtime while the Canadiens were up a man once again. “I think you want the power play to work at the right times, and we’re doing that right now.”
The Canadiens’ bench boss shared similar thoughts after watching his team right the ship in the latter stages of their 45th game of the season, one which ultimately produced their 29th win of the year.
“Since the game in Columbus, the power play has been working well. We’re executing well. We’re moving the puck. We’re a lot more aggressive. We have a better net presence. That helps us capitalize with the man advantage,” praised Therrien, whose squad will now benefit from the five-day All-Star break before returning to action on January 27 against the Dallas Stars in Montreal. “We changed our mindset about it, and we’ve started to get some results. We all understand that we need a good power play to be successful.”
It doesn’t hurt to have a world-class netminder, either. In his first outing since suffering a minor upper-body injury, Carey Price was brilliant once again, stymying the Predators as they stormed out of the gate before finishing the game with 36 saves.
“If it wasn’t for Carey, we wouldn’t be talking about the win. He stood on his head. That’s why he’s going to the All-Star Game. He played unbelievable,” mentioned Galchenyuk, who, like the rest of his teammates, wasn’t at all surprised to see Price come up big when the Canadiens needed him most. “At the end of the day, it’s always nice to win, no matter how you play. It’s a nice comeback. You can go home with two points. It was especially big before the break. Now, we have a lot of time to rest up.”
And, they also have plenty of reasons to feel good about themselves with 61 points in the bank, and a bevy of positives to build on when they get back to work next Monday for practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
“We don’t panic. We always seem to find a way. We’ve got great people in this room. If it’s the last minute of the game, we find a way to tie it up. Our power play is heating up and finding a way, too,” praised Dale Weise. “That’s the way you’re going to be successful. Your power play wins the game one night. Someone chips in late other nights. And, Carey Price is Carey Price every night.”
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