MONTREAL – With just two assists in his first six games, David Desharnais knew he had to make some adjustments heading into Saturday’s game. That’s when he took a page out of his linemates’ playbook.
In 2011-12, Desharnias collected the majority of his points by feathering perfect passes over to Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty. Still looking for his first goal of the current campaign prior to Saturday’s matinee, the 5-foot-7 pivot decided to start channeling his inner power forward to see if that would help swing open the floodgates.
“There’s definitely a little feeling of relief, but I wasn’t really thinking about it. I just wanted to go hard to the net and it paid off,” described Desharnais, who forced his way through traffic to bang home a Lars Eller pass in the second period before capping the afternoon with a power play goal to make it a 6-1 game. “That’s the key: no fancy plays. Just drive the net and don’t get fancy out there. It’s working for us so we have to just keep doing that. When we’re playing the right way, we’re going to be dangerous.”
Ryan Miller had a chance to find out just how lethal the Canadiens’ offense can be on Saturday, getting chased from the net for the first time in 38 career starts against the Habs. The goals came so quickly for the Canadiens that Desharnais barely had time to bask in the cheers from the Bell Centre faithful when Eller slipped his first of the season past Miller 28 seconds later.
“That’s perfect; I loved that,” mentioned Desharnais with a smile. “That’s the way we want to play and it’s good for him to get his first one out of the way, too. Every time you step on the ice, you want to contribute. We want to score every game.
“It’s always fun to score, but it’s not like that was the first goal I’ve ever scored in my life,” he added with a laugh. “I have confidence in myself and in my abilities. Sometimes it just takes a little longer, but I knew it would come eventually and I was just happy to see it go in for me today.”
With Pacioretty out of the lineup recovering from last Saturday’s emergency appendectomy, Eller earned a spot filling in for the 23-year-old power forward alongside Desharnais and Cole. He took full advantage of his opportunity against Buffalo, finishing with a goal and two assists while going 63% in the faceoff circle.
“We’ve been struggling a bit the last couple of games so it’s a great feeling to score and an even better feeling to win,” shared Eller. “Today was kind of the catch-up effect you could say. I’m always going to try to score, but you can never take it for granted. If we play like we did today, the chances are going to come and eventually the goals are going to come, too.”
Both forwards managed to break out of their early season slumps, but it didn’t come without a few bumps and bruises against the Sabres. Greeting the media with fresh cuts under his eye and above his lip, Desharnais will head into Sunday’s game against Ottawa with a visible reminder of how he needs to play to be successful.
“Scars look cool, but I don’t think girls don’t really like them that much,” he joked.
They may not work on the ladies, but luckily for Desharnais, his coach does seem to dig scars.
“It’s important for them to get their noses dirty in the corners and be willing to go into traffic,” confirmed Michel Therrien. “I looked at David in the third and saw he was cut here and here and I told him he should go look in a mirror because he looked like a hockey player. Those cuts are a good sign; it means he’s going into traffic.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words from the room
Game highlights: Habs vs. Sabres
The Numbers Game - February 2, 2013
Boxscore: Habs vs. Buffalo