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Opening the floodgates

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Hockey players often talk about the importance of scoring first, but that adage has never been more applicable than it was for the Habs on Tuesday night.

After banging home a rebound just over eight minutes into Tuesday’s game against the Thrashers, Roman Hamrlik may have heard a collective sigh of relief follow the usual goal horn and explosion of cheers ringing throughout the Bell Centre.

With his first period marker eight minutes into the game, the Czech blue-liner wasn’t just getting his team on the board; he was also putting an end to his team’s 199 minute and one second scoreless streak.

Hamrlik's donut-winning goal
“I think Hammer won a donut for getting the first goal of the game. Pouly [Benoit Pouliot] won a donut in [Tim Horton’s] Roll up the Rim today so he put that up on the board for whoever got the first one,” laughed Carey Price after earning first star honors with a 27-save performance. “Tonight it was pretty important to get the first goal. We needed to grab the momentum. After we popped the first one and then got that second one, I thought we carried the momentum for the majority of the game.”

With just four goals to his credit heading into the night, even Hamrlik was surprised to be the one winning the celebratory Apple Fritter.

“Wiz gave me a nice pass in the slot and I should have scored on that shot, but the rebound was there,” admitted the 36-year-old defenseman. “I don’t score too many goals so it was nice to get that one. Usually I’m back on the blue line, but I just skated behind the net and the puck was bouncing right there. It was a lucky bounce for me.”

The Habs may have gone nearly 200 minutes without a goal, but it took just 11 seconds for Mathieu Darche to follow Hamrlik’s lead, potting his 10th goal of the season while the Bell Centre crowd was still on its feet.

“At this time of the year, it doesn’t really matter who scores, it matters who wins,” underlined Darche. “For sure personally, you always want more, but I know I have a role to play here. Before the game, we were talking about how it’s not the time to be looking around, waiting for the guy beside you to be the difference-maker. We knew that everyone needed to find a way to be part of the solution.”

After seeing seven Habs factor into the scoring and 14 fire at least one shot in the contest, Brian Gionta was encouraged by his team’s play against the Thrashers. Now the Habs captain is expecting more of the same to close out the campaign.

“Our main focus is we need to bring that intensity and that focus every game,” he stressed. That’s what we need for the next five games and into the playoffs. It shows what type of game we can play when we’re at that level and that’s what we need to do from here on out.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

Postgame comments: Martin | Gionta | Price | Gomez | Hamrlik
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