MONTREAL - Jonathan Drouin was presented with a rare opportunity on Wednesday night. More importantly, though, he seized the moment and made it count.
With the Canadiens down by a goal in the second period to the Ottawa Senators, the 22-year-old centerman beat starter Mike Condon on a penalty shot to tie things up.
That sent the Bell Centre faithful into a frenzy, and just 2:20 later Phillip Danault scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory that extended the Canadiens' win streak to three games.
Lighting the lamp under those circumstances is something Drouin won't soon forget.
"I was a little bit nervous about it with all the noise [from the crowd], but you dream about moments like these, being on the ice and being awarded a penalty shot," said Drouin, who was the first Canadiens player to convert a penalty shot since Dale Weise accomplished the feat on November 13, 2014 against the Boston Bruins. "It was the first one of my career. It's a lot of fun to score in this building."
Video: OTT@MTL: Drouin cashes in on the penalty shot
Drouin didn't exactly have a lot of time to prepare for the attempt after Senators defenseman Cody Ceci hooked him from behind on a breakaway. That made the situation somewhat more stressful, according to the four-year NHL vet.
"You aren't expecting to be in that position [of being given a penalty shot]. When it's a shootout, you're on the bench and you know that you're going to be called upon in the second or third round. This goes fast," explained Drouin, who went on to score his fifth goal of the season. "I had two moves in mind. I won't say what the other one is… just that the two of them are from the same side. That's all I can say."
Drouin obviously chose correctly and it jumpstarted the Canadiens offensively. Head coach Claude Julien certainly appreciated his young sniper's efforts.
"When Jonathan skates like he can, he's an excellent skater. He has an excellent shot, good vision, makes good plays and he's capable of scoring goals. He's capable of doing a lot," praised Julien, following the Habs' win over their Atlantic Division rivals. "He's earned his success. We put him at center, a position he hasn't played in a few years, and he's adapted well to it."
Video: Price, Canadiens stave off Senators, 2-1
Speaking of adapting to something new, defenseman David Schlemko was forced to do just that on Wednesday night when he made his Habs debut after missing the first 25 games of the 2017-18 campaign with a hand injury.
He logged 15:54 of ice time and was please with his performance.
"There were nerves and excitement, but once you get those first few shifts under your belt, it's like another game," said Schlemko, who took Victor Mete's spot in the lineup against the Senators. "I'm glad we got the win. I'm ready to go for the next one."
The Canadiens will be back in action on Thursday night in Detroit for the first installment of a home-and-home series against the Red Wings that will wrap up on Saturday night in Montreal.