MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Tuesday night's 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
Price delivers the goods
With a 33-save performance chock-full of highlight-reel saves, goaltender Carey Price played a huge part in his team's two-time third-period comeback against the Blue Jackets and it should come as no surprise that his teammates took notice.
"Pricey was incredible," praised Phillip Danault, who assisted on Tomas Tatar's late-game equalizer. "He changed the game."
Forward Jonathan Drouin, who scored the beautiful shootout winner on Columbus netminder Elvis Merzlikins, pointed out how important it is to have stability in the crease when you're trying to turn things around.
"He's calm. He's always able to keep his team in the game. It gives us confidence to have him behind us," shared Drouin. "Whether it's on a two-on-one or a three-on-three, we know Carey is there for us."
Price, who won his ninth game of the season on Tuesday, let his trademark calm go out the window after the game was decided and joined in the celebrations with his team.
"I was calm during the shootout, and obviously excited to win," explained Price, who has a 2.65 goals-against average and .916 save percentage this season. "It's a big win coming back from being down with a minute left. It's a big two points for us."
Oh, what a pass
If Price did a stellar job keeping his team in the game, give a lot of credit to Danault, Nick Suzuki, and Tomas Tatar for providing an incredibly timely game-tying goal with under 0:41 go to after the Jackets took a late lead 1:12 before it.
It started with a give-and-go between Danault and Suzuki, who then threaded the puck cross-ice to a waiting Tatar who had put himself in position to make his move and make it 2-2.
"We made eye contact. I was just trying to hide and find my spot," described Tatar, who is tied with Drouin for the team lead with 15 points (6G, 9A) in 18 games. "It was a really beautiful play by Nick, and I was just ready to shoot."
For his part, Suzuki was appreciative of being deployed late in the game and given the opportunity to work his magic.
"It's huge for me, I'm just trying to build as much confidence as I can in him and in myself," outlined the rookie forward, who earned his seventh point of the season with the helper. "It's really nice to be out there and be able to contribute."
Head coach Claude Julien knew that Suzuki wouldn't have any jitters despite the pressure of the moment.
"Nick isn't a nervous guy; it isn't his style. He's very confident in his abilities. When we look at him on the power play, he's a guy who makes good plays and makes good decisions with the puck," explained the Habs bench boss. "He's one of our best in that sense; it comes naturally to him. There's no hesitation about using him in those kinds of situations, because he's able to handle them well."
Redemption and determination
Tatar is the Canadiens' most penalized player this season with 20 penalty minutes - including a pair of minors assessed in Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers - and was relieved that he could redeem himself with a key tally to help send the game into extra time.
"You always feel bad when you take penalties. It's not the best feeling, but it's a part of hockey. We took a few today. Our PK is doing a great job right now," Tatar said of the Habs' perfect shorthanded efforts on Tuesday. "We're really happy we got rewarded at the end. It's a huge two points for us, we're climbing up the standings."
After trailing for much of the game, the Canadiens' drive helped them redeem themselves by coming back from a one-goal deficit twice in the final frame.
"Everyone is determined and wants to win. Everyone's applying the system well," concluded Danault. "We've developed a lot of confidence with what we built last year."
The Canadiens are back on the ice at 11:00 a.m on Wednesday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.