WASHINGTON, DC - Here are a few key storylines from Friday night's 5-2 win over the Capitals at Capital One Arena.
Talk about a response…
When Alexander Ovechkin elected to dish out a punishing hit on Jonathan Drouin during the second period, the Capitals could have easily seized the momentum necessary to take complete control of a scoreless contest.
That didn't happen, though.
Instead, the Canadiens responded with four unanswered goals in a span of 8:20, as Phillip Danault, Shea Weber, Jordan Weal and Nick Suzuki scored on goaltender Ilya Samsonov to open a substantial lead through 40 minutes of play.
To say that head coach Claude Julien was impressed by the flurry is a serious understatement.
"We kept our focus on the job we had to do. We kept on playing. We didn't lose our concentration. I thought it was a good response to that. I thought our guys were more determined," praised Julien, following the Habs' third consecutive victory and their seventh win in the last nine games. "They didn't get frustrated - and we scored some goals."
Video: Claude Julien's postgame press conference @ WSH
Julien even had a little fun at Drouin's expense after the final buzzer, joking that perhaps keeping the 24-year-old on the sidelines for the remainder of the contest might be a smart move.
Following the hit, of course, Drouin was immediately subject to the League's concussion protocol.
"I almost decided to leave Drouin in the dressing room for that reason, because when he left we started to score," cracked Julien. "But, he actually wanted to play, so we let him come back."
As for Drouin's health status, the veteran bench boss offered up a brief update.
"He didn't get hit in the head," explained Julien. "We'll see how he is [on Saturday]. As long as he's good, he'll be in the lineup [against the Devils at the Bell Centre]."
Thumbs up, Nick!
There's no denying that Suzuki continues to make a good impression up the middle.
In addition to registering his fourth goal of the season, the 20-year-old London, ON native won five of his seven draws (71%) while logging 13:37 of ice time.
"I think that's the best game I've played at center. I'm more comfortable faceoff-wise and defensive-wise. I think I want to keep playing at center," said Suzuki, who is adamant about being a difference-maker in his role. "I'm just trying to go out there every day and prove that I can play the center position, focus on the defensive side first and let the offense do the rest."
Video: Nick Suzuki on growing more comfortable at center
Julien has clearly taken a liking to the former OHL standout's game from top to bottom.
"He's so smart. He makes good decisions. He doesn't panic. I really like the direction he's heading in, and it's encouraging," praised Julien. "In training camp, he did a good job at center. It was a matter of giving him the opportunity and sticking with him. He's just gotten better. No matter where you put him, wherever he's been put, he's done well and had success."
Among his many veteran fans in the locker room is Tatar.
"There's a connection there. We talk a lot. He's a young player. He's eager to learn and that's nice to see. I think he's going to be a great player in this league," insisted Tatar. "He's playing well, he's really skilled, and he reads the game well. That's making it easy on me to play with him."
Tuna delivers the goods
Tatar certainly had a night to remember in the District of Columbia with a career-high four points (1G, 3A) against the Capitals.
He currently leads the Canadiens with seven goals and 19 points through 19 games so far this season.
The 28-year-old Slovak isn't big on discussing personal accolades, however.
"We played a strong game, we played the right way, and we're happy with these two big points. They're a really strong team. It was just a good effort from all four lines," said Tatar, who scored an empty-netter. "I think we're more focused on the big win. It's like the cherry on top of the cake. I'm just really excited for this win. It was a tough building to play in."
Weber is definitely in agreement there.
"It's a big win for us, but we've got about five to 10 minutes to enjoy it," said Weber. "Then, we've got to get back to work for [Saturday night against the Devils]."
Video: Shea Weber on playing a strong team game