NEWARK - Here are a few key storylines from Tuesday night's 5-4 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
Down 3-0 before the halfway mark of the game had even passed, the Canadiens came back in spectacular fashion to take a late third-period lead, and didn't back down when the Devils tied the game in the dying seconds of regulation.
Ilya Kovalchuk knows what a boost his team can get from a positive outcome like that.
"It happens. We didn't give up, and all the guys here are trying to do something special," said the Russian sniper, who scored the lone goal of the shootout to down his former team. "I think that comeback will build a lot of confidence for our home games. We have to play way better at home."
Joel Armia was a big reason his team was able to come back at all. With a three-goal deficit and down a man after Max Domi was sent to the box for slashing in the second period, the Finnish winger broke away shorthanded and got the ball rolling on the Habs' eventual comeback.
That said, Armia didn't want to give credit to one single event for his squad's ability to turn it around, pointing instead to his teammates' determination.
"I don't know if there was just one moment during the game," explained Armia, who set a new career high with his 14th of the season. "It has to be in this room that we can believe in each other and just have the confidence to come back from games like this."
Video: Armia on his chemistry with Thompson on the PK
His head coach, however, thought the goal - and Nate Thompson's sweet dangle 4:02 later - did make a difference.
"We got a bit of a boost," praised Claude Julien. "It was 3-0, then he scores a goal shorthanded and it really gave the team some energy.
"Then, you see Thompson bring the puck to the net and it gave hope, especially to the scoring lines."
Big night for Joel
Setting a career high was just one of many accomplishments on the night for Armia, who skated for 18:20, registered three shots on goal - with another four attempts blocked - and added three hits and four takeaways.
Julien was certainly impressed with what the 26-year-old brought to the table.
"Tonight, he was maybe the best player on both teams. He's strong on the puck, he has a good stick, he anticipates the play well, and he cuts the play often," said the coach of Armia. "He seems very comfortable in those situations. He has a good shot and when he heads to the net, we know he's going to have a chance to score."
When asked if he saw anything in the way the Devils were playing the power play that allowed him to break free, Armia said he just trusted his connection with Thompson on the shorthanded unit.
"Tommer and I have pretty good chemistry on the P.K," described Armia, who is just four points shy of matching the career-high 29 he registered with the Winnipeg Jets in 2017-18. "We kind of know what the other guy is doing on the forecheck, too, so it's just seeing those opportunities when you can jump the D-men and shoot the puck. It wasn't anything special."
One flu over the cuckoo's nest
A flu bug seems to be making its way through the locker room; Carey Price stayed back in Montreal as a result, and Victor Mete and Jordan Weal became the latest victims and remained at the hotel during the game.
"It's definitely going around. I think our trainer said this is the worst flu that it's been in 10 years," said goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who made 20 saves and earned his first win of the season with Montreal. "The hospitals are packed and everyone's getting it, including our team, so we have to do a good job of taking care of our bodies and washing our hands and getting good sleep and all that."
Video: Charlie Lindgren on finishing strong
Still, Julien didn't think the illness was the reason why his team had a rough first half and went down 3-0, but either way, it certainly wasn't a factor in the way his troops closed out the contest.
"Not everyone was sick, but everyone was playing like that. We definitely had guys on the bench who had to go to the room at certain points because they didn't feel well," recounted the Canadiens bench boss. "That's part of what happens at this time of year. We're not the only team in this situation. But if you watched the game, we finished strong."
The Canadiens face the Anaheim Ducks at the Bell Centre on Thursday. For tickets to the game, click here.