BROSSARD - Alex Galchenyuk’s overtime winner - the perfectly placed one-timer that brought the 21,286 spectators at the Bell Centre to their feet – was just one of the many highlights from Tuesday’s thriller.
A NEW TRIO IN TOWN: In response to the latest batch of injuries, coach Therrien returned to the drawing board where he constructed a new top line featuring Alex Galchenyuk back at center in between Max Pacioretty and Sven Andrighetto.
“I’m really pleased with the way the team has competed the last few games. I thought our line definitely played well. Right now we’re in the midst of an evaluation period, so for us to be at our best we need to keep improving every game. We’ve had fun playing together the last three games. As a line we just have to keep getting better and better and hopefully we can step up and take on even more responsibility,” stated captain Max Pacioretty, who has collected four points in his last two games alongside his new line-mates Galchenyuk and Andrighetto. “Sven’s got the skill to play anywhere in the lineup, but when he gets the opportunity to make plays and get some good ice time, he’s going to take advantage of it. I think he’s done a good job of that this year. When he first got called up he had a couple spurts like that. For a player of that caliber, at a young age it is important to prove that they can be a consistent NHLer.”
MAKING SOME NOISE: Galchenyuk’s game-winning-goal wasn’t the only moment to send Habs fans into a frenzy, as recently acquired Phillip Danault scored his first career goal in a Montreal Canadiens uniform. The goal was just the second marker of the 23-year-old’s career, making Tuesday night a memorable one for the Canadiens rookie.
“I had butterflies in my stomach before the game, but the fans were just so amazing. It was an incredible feeling to score and hear the crowd cheer my name,” admitted Danault, who also revealed that both he and his phone were buzzing with excitement. “I received several text messages, it was really nice to see the support of everyone, I really appreciated it. I hold that memory in the same category as my first NHL goal [which occurred earlier this year with the Chicago Blackhawks]. I thought I played better last game but I’m never quite satisfied. I can’t say I’ve been perfect but I can say that I am constantly working hard to improve. After I scored that goal last night I was able to relax a bit and just tell myself ‘Okay, you can settle down now.’”
GOOD NEWS EVERYONE: The good news keeps coming as Lars Eller – presently sidelined with a ‘mid-body’ injury - was back with his teammates at Wednesday morning’s practice in Brossard, albeit while sporting a baby blue non-contact jersey. A durable player over the course of his seven-year NHL career, Eller had previously suited up for all 66 games this season before he was forced to sit out Tuesday night’s affair against Dallas.
“I feel good, I’ve been progressing every day. I can’t say when I will return for sure but I can say that things are moving in the right direction. The injury occurred during our last road trip, I guess you could call it a mid-body injury. It’s not a long-term thing, more of a day-to-day situation right now,” provided Eller, who pundits would agree, was playing some of his best hockey prior to suffering the ‘mid-body’ injury.
“I’ll know more about my status tomorrow, but I felt better today than I did yesterday. I felt I was doing a lot of good things out on the ice recently, ever since I was moved back to center at some point in January. I’ve been feeling really good about my game lately, regardless of who I am playing with. I feel like I was on a long and consistent run of good hockey, so it’s not fun to sit on the sidelines. I hope it won’t take long to get back to that form, I’ve only missed one game. Like I said I really see this as a day-to-day thing, I’ve been skating every day except for two off-days. It shouldn’t be an issue.”
NO EXCUSES: As noted by captain Pacioretty, the Canadiens are not willing to take a single game lightly as the 2015-16 season winds down.
“This is a hockey team that doesn’t accept failure. We don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the year or in the summer but you know through tough times like this you want to show what you are made of; both mentally and physically. Show that we have what it takes to be Montreal Canadiens.”
Though he only has one game of Bell Centre experience to his credit, Stefan Matteau - the newest member of the Canadiens roster – echoed his captain’s sentiments.
“Nobody here wants to give up. No player in the league, even if you are in first or last place, wants to give up. We are all professionals and we take every game seriously. Yesterday we knew we were in tough against a very good team, so we knew we’d have to be at our very best,” concluded Matteau.
As the son of an 848-game NHL veteran, the youngster quickly became accustomed to the sights and sounds of a national hockey league game, however, as the 22-year-old would certainly attest after last night, nothing quite compares to the roar of the Bell Centre faithful.
Jared Ostroff is a writer for canadiens.com
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