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MTL@VGK: About Thursday night...

The Canadiens have every reason to be proud of their remarkable effort in Las Vegas

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

LAS VEGAS - Here are a few key storylines from Thursday night's 5-4 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.

Heart on display

After falling behind by a pair of goals with 12 minutes remaining in the third period, the Canadiens could have easily let some frustration get the best of them.

But, they didn't. Instead, Claude Julien's players rattled off three straight goals en route to their third consecutive victory.

After Tomas Tatar cut the Golden Knights' lead to 4-3, Brendan Gallagher tied things up with 1:58 left in regulation time. Then, Max Domi sealed the deal just 26 seconds into overtime.

Video: MTL@VGK: Gallagher sneaks puck in, ties the game late

"It's absolutely huge. Whether you want to call it resiliency or character, you name it, our team showed a lot tonight. We didn't necessarily play the best hockey the first couple of periods, but good teams find ways to battle through that adversity," explained Domi, whose game-winner was his fourth goal of the season. "Back-to-backs are tough. We found a way to stay with it. When you get into overtime, anything can happen. It was a great win tonight."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: The boys 𝓉𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓉𝑒𝒹 us to a good one tonight.#GoHabsGo

It certainly was, particularly because the Canadiens were in tough playing their second game in as many nights. Vegas, meanwhile, was a fresh bunch since their previous encounter was on Sunday.

Rallying in that manner is another sign this group is trending in the right direction. 

"Everyone in this league has to play back-to-backs. It's a part of the game. No one's making excuses, so you've got to find ways to adapt as a team, keep it simple, and just keep grinding through," said Domi. "I think we left it all out there tonight."

Video: MTL@VGK: Domi wins it in overtime for Canadiens

Julien's pride was on full display once this one was over.

"The guys never gave up. We fell behind the eight-ball in the third period. We knew it was going to be a tough game. The key was not to get frustrated and just stick with it. I think we did a good job of that. On the bench we were saying, 'Let's get the next one here and put some pressure on.' When you believe and you work properly and do the right things, you get rewarded," said Julien. "For a team that was playing two in two against a really good hockey club here, you have to be happy with the two points."

A first for Kinkaid

After earning his first victory in a Canadiens uniform, goaltender Keith Kinkaid can certainly breathe a little bit easier.

The 30-year-old Farmingville, NY native made 31 saves versus the Golden Knights, including several of the highlight-reel variety.

Admittedly, though, Kinkaid wasn't pleased with some of the pucks that ultimately beat him over the course of the night. But, they're all in the rearview mirror now.

"We just showed our resiliency again, how we're never out of a game. I've really got to be better for them. The first one is always the hardest," said Kinkaid, who suited up for the first time since October 20. "They're always battling for me. Coming to a new team, you put pressure on yourself. I definitely need to be better going forward, but we just showed our resiliency and how we never give up."

Video: MTL@VGK: Kinkaid robs Stone with quick glove

There's no denying the seven-year NHL veteran's commitment to being a difference-maker for his new squad. He acknowledged a desire to be far more consistent in between the pipes, and that should come as he masters the intricacies of playing far less than he was used to in recent years with the New Jersey Devils.

"You have these long layoffs, and it's tough to get going at first. Especially the past two seasons, I've played pretty consistently. It's an adjustment to that life. You've got to be sharp mentally right from the start. You can't really have a mental lapse during the game," said Kinkaid. "But, really all that matters is we got the win and we got the two points. It's definitely a difficult trip with the back-to-back, and then going into Dallas is never easy."

A triumphant return

Nick Suzuki was all smiles following the Canadiens' triumph. And, with good reason.

Remember that the 20-year-old London, ON native was a first-round draft pick of the Golden Knights in 2017 before being traded to the Canadiens along with Tomas Tatar in September 2018.

"It was pretty much a whirlwind. Lots of ups and downs, but everyone stuck with it," said Suzuki. "The leadership group kept us calm, coaches kept us calm, and we were able to battle back in the third there."

In Jesperi Kotkaniemi's absence, Suzuki was charged with playing center on a line with Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron. He logged over 13 minutes of ice time, and won six of his seven faceoffs along the way.

"I was trying to play solid defensively. I was out there against some of their top lines. They have a ton of skill. They move the puck really well," mentioned Suzuki. "I thought overall we did a good job as a line of limiting chances. If we stay together, I think we can create more, too."

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