MONTREAL - The Canadiens made history on Wednesday night, but they certainly didn't do it the easy way.
Despite being outshot by a 42-21 margin and coughing up the puck 19 times, Michel Therrien's contingent still found managed to secure a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre on the strength of goals by Nathan Beaulieu, Torrey Mitchell and Alexander Radulov - and another remarkable shutout performance by Carey Price, of course.
Video: VAN@MTL: Beaulieu bangs the rebound past Miller
The Canadiens' eighth consecutive win upped their record to a league-best 9-0-1 (19 points) on the year, which represents the best start to a regular season in franchise history through 10 games. That surpassed the mark of 18 points that was originally set in 1943-44 and matched last season as well.
It also marked the fourth time in franchise history that a Canadiens team went undefeated in regulation time through the first 10 games of the year, a feat that was previously accomplished in 1943-44, 1972-73 and again in 1981-82.
Following Wednesday night's win, though, setting a brand new franchise record and matching another was the last thing Therrien's troops were focused on after being completely outplayed through the first half of the game.
"We didn't execute and then we found ourselves chasing it. We wanted to make more plays. It's something that we've worked on, but when the opportunity came, we weren't executing well. When we tried to hit the middle, it seemed like pucks were bouncing off sticks and it definitely was far from a perfect game," said captain Max Pacioretty, referencing the Canadiens' struggles to generate much of anything before Beaulieu snapped a 52-game goalless drought at 12:22 of the middle frame, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
"You take it, you move on and you try to get better. We've been talking for a couple of days now about wanting to get better - and until the end of the game, for the most part, it was a poor effort and very, very poor execution. We have to play much, much better than that," added Pacioretty, clearly disappointed with the Canadiens' overall performance against Vancouver.
Video: Max Pacioretty on the victory over Vancouver
Without a doubt, the bright spot on Wednesday night was Price's effort between the pipes. The All-World netminder registered the 37th shutout of his career - which also happened to be his 11th straight regular-season victory on Bell Centre ice dating back to April 2, 2015.
"Pricey was obviously Pricey, which is awesome. But, we definitely got away with one. We just weren't sharp. It's going to happen over the course of the year," mentioned Beaulieu. "It was definitely a wake-up call. I guess it's the best kind of wake-up call to get. We ended up getting the W. It was a tough game for us. We were good in the third, but other than that, we relied on Carey the whole night."
Video: Carey Price on his performance against Vancouver
The line of Mitchell, Phillip Danault and Brian Flynn also came up big in the latter stages of the second period to generate a highlight-reel goal that put the Canadiens up 2-0. Mitchell's team-leading fifth tally of the year with 49 seconds remaining in the middle frame gave his squad some breathing room after they admittedly came out flat early on.
"That's been our most consistent line since the start of the season," praised Therrien, who watched as all three forwards capped a perfect passing play in style. "They scored a big goal in the second period. They were rewarded for their hard work."
Video: VAN@MTL: Mitchell buries Danault's feed
Up next for the Canadiens is a date with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night in Ohio, before returning home to battle the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at the Bell Centre in their second set of back-to-back games this season.
While things continue to click up and down the lineup and both Price and Al Montoya are in fine form in goal, Therrien fully expects his club to come out of the gate a lot stronger than they did on a night when they collectively etched their names in the record books, but failed to play up to their potential.
"It's an exceptional accomplishment [to reach that mark], but it wasn't really a subject of conversation with our group, to be honest. The majority of the guys were aware of it, but it wasn't our goal," concluded Therrien. "We're off to a good start, but we have to continue to perform and play solid hockey."