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Post-game notebook – Winnipeg

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
WINNIPEG – In Thursday’s post-game notebook; no shortage in the shot department, the Jets’ effort comes as no surprise, and Dustin Tokarski praises his opponent.


Shots, shots and more shots: You have to give credit to Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec. He played one outstanding game on Thursday night, turning aside 39 shots to pick up his sixth straight victory between the pipes. Pavelec was particularly good during the first period when Michel Therrien’s troops racked up 20 shots on goal trying to break the game wide open. It was the second time this season that the Canadiens managed to register at least 20 shots in a single frame during the 2014-15 campaign. They’d previously accomplished the feat back on December 30 in the second period against Florida. Unfortunately, the effort that night produced a far different result, as the CH went on to secure a 2-1 shootout victory in South Florida.

“It wasn’t like we were discouraged or anything. We knew that we were playing a team that was going to work hard and make it tough in front. We were able to create some scoring chances, but there’s a difference between creating them and putting them in,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who along with Andrei Markov managed to light the lamp behind the Czech netminder on Thursday night at MTS Centre in a 5-2 defeat. “We’ve got to bear down, myself included, and make sure that we put those scoring chances in early on. It changes the course of the game. We liked the effort. We liked everything that led to it, but we’ve just got to do a better job bearing down.”

Pavelec, however, wasn’t about to let that happen, and head coach Michel Therrien didn’t shy away from giving the 27-year-old praise in the aftermath of the Canadiens’ 21st regulation time loss of the year.

“Pavelec was incredible. I think he made the difference in this game,” offered Therrien, whose squad remains atop the Atlantic Division standings with 100 points through 75 games, one point clear of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “We played a solid game. We were ready. We dictated the pace of the game with our speed. Pavelec played outstanding hockey for them. They definitely capitalized on their chances.”

No surprise: The Canadiens knew full well that the Jets were coming to play on Thursday night. That didn’t come as much of a shock. After all, Paul Maurice’s contingent is fighting to secure the franchise’s first postseason berth since Winnipeg returned to the NHL ranks for the 2011-12 campaign.

“You can tell that their mindset every night is that they just want to use their speed, forecheck and play physical hockey. They did that against us. We expected that,” offered Gallagher, referencing the Jets’ high-octane effort on Thursday night, one that included Winnipeg outhitting the Canadiens by a 28-19 margin when all was said and done. “It wasn’t anything that caught us off guard. It’s the strength of their team. They were able to create some chances off of it.”

And, they ultimately capitalized on their opportunities, scoring three goals in the second period alone to head to the locker room with a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes of play.

“We played two solid periods where we dominated in the shot department and in the total number of scoring chances. We were losing 4-1. Games like this happen over the course of the season, but the effort was definitely there,” mentioned Therrien. “You can’t just look at the final score, though. That’s a mistake. The guys competed and that’s what I think is important. We showed a lot of character. We were ready. We knew we had a big challenge ahead of us, and I think the guys worked really hard.”

Forget it and move on:
Like his teammates, Dustin Tokarski wasn’t pleased with the outcome of Thursday night’s contest in Manitoba. Playing in front of family and friends, the 25-year-old was looking to make the most of his 15th start of the year and keep on rolling after a brilliant performance in his previous start in mid-March against Florida. While his seventh win of the season didn’t ultimately materialize, the Watson, SK native left Winnipeg with his head held high.

“You guys saw it. [Pavelec] stood on his head. That’s a pretty epic performance by him,” offered Tokarski. “We played a good game. I would like to have made a few more saves out there, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. We’ve got to bounce back and pick up a couple at home.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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