MONTREAL – Lars Eller is starting to hit his groove.
Nine games into his second NHL season in Montreal, Eller finally got his first goal of the campaign. Not that he hasn’t had his chances.
“It felt really good,” admitted the 22-year-old center, who scored the game-winner in the first period. “Although, it feels like I should have had four or five already and I probably should’ve had three tonight! But we’re creating the opportunities and that’s the most important thing. I know I’ll get a little bit sharper and a little bit cooler in front of the net and I’ll be scoring a lot more goals.”
Eller, Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen have combined for 10 points in their past five games, but the Danish pivot isn’t about to take credit for his line’s increasing productivity.
“It was a great play by Mo,” offered Eller of Moen’s assist on his first period marker. “He makes a lot of great plays that you might not see, but he creates a lot of space for me and Andrei. He’s been terrific. He’s up there among our leaders for a reason.
“You always know what you’re going to get from him and he’s easy to read off of,” he added. “I really enjoy playing with both of them. The three of us are working really well together.”
After finishing with a minus-4 differential last year, the shifty center also made sure he arrived at camp ready to focus as much on keeping pucks out of the net as he does on putting them in. Despite making a costly turnover late in the second period that led to a Milan Lucic goal, Eller was able to learn from it and move on.
“Mistakes are going to happen once in a while and I don’t think I’ve made a giveaway like that this season. Today I made one,” admitted Eller, who earned second star honors for his night’s work. “I got a little tired and made a bad decision, but you have to just shake it off right away and not let it affect your next shift. I’ve been playing more and more and the coaches have been trusting me more and more and I’m not going to make a play like that again.”
With a six-day break before heading to Ottawa to face the Senators, Eller will be spending the next few practices making sure of that.
“I want to be as good in my own end as I am in the offensive zone so Jacques [Martin] can put me out there in any situation,” confirmed Eller, who has a plus-3 differential through nine games this year. “I want to be out there when the game is on the line whether we’re down a goal or up one. I feel good about that.”SEE ALSOBoxscoreThe Numbers Game Notebook: Oct. 29, 2011 Aaron Palushaj assigned to Hamilton Cole on a roll
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.