MONTREAL – The polls just opened 24 hours earlier, but Brian Gionta
is already making a strong case for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
Leading the way with a goal and two assists in a 3-0 win over the Flyers, it’s safe to say Gionta is back. Racking up eight points in the last five games, the 31-year-old has been putting on a clinic of late and he’s got plenty of lesson plans left up his sleeve.
“I’m feeling good. Like I said earlier I’ve always felt good about my game, the production just wasn’t there,” offered Gionta, who led the Canadiens with 28 goals in 61 games last season. “I was doing the same things and now the pucks are going in. We took advantage of that 5-on-3. When you get one early on in the game like that, it’s a lot easier. It’s nice to play with the lead.”
Fellow veteran Jaroslav Spacek put in some serious overtime on Tuesday night, playing 23:10 with Andrei Markov
shelved with an injury, but even he was impressed with the extra effort coming from the Habs’ captain.
“Gio played great tonight. He elevated his game, especially on the power play,” marveled Spacek, after seeing his team go 2-for-7 with the man advantage despite missing its power play quarterback. “That was the type of game that could’ve gone either way, and it was a big win for us.”
Finishing his night as the game’s third star thanks to a three-point, five-shot, plus-1 effort, Gionta’s contributions continued even after the final buzzer sounded. After watching Flyers ring leader Chris Pronger collect losing game pucks in the Stanley Cup Finals last spring, it was no surprise to see the sinister blue-liner up to his old antics following Price’s third shutout of the season. Despite the 11-inch difference in height, Gionta wasn’t about to let his netminder’s puck get away that easily.
“I’m getting a little old for that,” laughed the 10-year-veteran after successfully retrieving the puck from Pronger before seeing Price launch it immediately to a lucky fan in the stands. “We had to get it – Carey’s playing extremely well and he deserved the puck after he got that shutout.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Post game comments
Canadiens 3, Flyers 0 The Numbers Game - Nov. 16, 2010 Hanging tough WATCH: Gionta's captain video