NEWARK – Michael Bournival knows a thing or two about earning his spot in the lineup.
After starting the season in the pressbox before shuttling back and forth between Hamilton and Montreal, Bournival returned to the big club in November ready to prove he was ready to stay for good. Two games later, he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the next month of the campaign, before being a healthy scratch for three games in late December.
The speedy winger officially left 2014 behind in his first game of the New Year, potting his first two goals of the season against the Devils.
“I was pretty lucky on that first one, but I’ll take it. I was actually trying to pass to [Dale] Weise,” admitted the 22-year-old winger with a laugh. “Weise made a great play along the boards on the second one. I thought we played well in the offensive zone tonight and I thought we had a pretty good game in general. It feels good to have a night like that.”
While the Habs also got some offense from the usual suspects, with Max Pacioretty potting his 15th of the season in the second and Tomas Plekanec firing his 11th into an empty net, getting some timely scoring from the fourth line made the difference in the 4-2 win over the Devils.
“I’m so happy for Bouny. He’s worked so hard all year and he’s gone up and down and had a couple of injuries so it’s nice to see him break through,” shared Pacioretty, who spent his share of time being called up and sent down himself early on in his career. “We’re all happy for him. You want everyone contributing and any night they contribute on the scoreboard is a little bit of extra motivation.”
Making the most of his 8:54 workload on Friday night, Bounival made his case for maintaining his spot in the lineup with his play in New Jersey. But with a healthy roster and the team riding a five-game win streak, the Shawinigan native knows he needs to bring more of the same to make sure he won’t be watching from the pressbox again any time soon.
“Right now I’m looking one day at a time. I don’t want to look too far ahead. That’s what I did at the beginning of the year and I need to get back to basics where I’m just going one day at a time,” admitted Bournival, who racked up eight points in seven AHL games this year. “I just have to focus on bringing energy on every shift and trying to create scoring chances.”
When he slotted Sven Andrighetto into the lineup in place of Manny Malhotra against the Panthers, Michel Therrien said it was because he was looking for his fourth line to spend more time in the offensive zone. Finishing a combined plus-6 on the night, Bournival, Weise and Andrighetto, proved they can be as effective in defensive zone as they are at lighting the lamp.
“It feels good to finally get some bounces,” said Weise, who made a pretty play to get a shot on goal before Bournival banged home the rebound for his second of the night. “We’ve only played two games and we had a couple of guys shifting in and out tonight, so we’re still trying to find our chemistry. If you put pucks to the net, good things are going to happen. It’s awesome to see Bourny score. He still didn’t say much, but you see the smile on his face.”
Getting the monkey off his back in his eighth game of the campaign, Bournival will be looking to build off his night in New Jersey to make sure his first game of 2015 is just foreshadowing for things to come.
“The ice is broken now,” said Bournival, who now has three points in eight games this season. “It’s up to me to keep working hard to make sure it continues going in the right direction.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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