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Habs hold high-shooting Kings to 24 SOG, snap Budaj's shutout streak

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL -- The Habs' game plan against their visitors from Hollywood went as according to script.

Entering Thursday's contest having won two in a row despite being outshot 81-40, this time the Canadiens executed their plays from the moment the cameras started rolling.

"It hasn't been perfect, but we're trending upwards after tonight," acknowledged Max Pacioretty postgame. "We have gotten bounces recently and we have relied on Carey [Price] too much at times, but all things considered we have the right mindset in this room."Video: Pacioretty on Danault's game

"It's nice to get out to a lead early. We didn't want to sit back on our heels and kill penalties at the end, but that's how the game went," continued Pacioretty. "I liked the resiliency -- some great saves by Carey and the rest of the guys stepping up when we had to kill those penalties. I think we played a much better executed game tonight than we have in the last couple."

Case in point, the Habs held the NHL's fifth-most trigger-happy team to just 24 shots on goal on Thursday, after allowing 43 and 38 on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively.

Part of that success can be credited to a new supporting actor on the captain's line.

"It's great to see the centerman come down low and support the wingers like that. It really made it easy on Shawzy [Andrew Shaw] and I," dished Pacioretty on his first-time center Phillip Danault. "It allowed us to come out together as a group of five, and the result was a lot more puck possession. It's a lot easier to work hard when you're holding the puck like that, and that poise with the puck is what we needed. It started with Phil, but I think everyone took note of it and jumped on board."Video: LAK@MTL: Danault grabs rebound, scores odd-angle goal

And while the Habs were out-hit 58-21, it turns out that was just a matter of getting bang for their puck.

"We're not really aware of the hits until we go see the stat sheet after," admitted the American sniper. "All it means is that we had the puck a lot."

Montreal made the most of their possession, beating goaltender Peter Budaj -- who entered the game riding a pair of back-to-back shutouts -- three times before adding the empty netter to end the game 4-1.

"We knew he was a hot goalie heading into the game, and had a couple of wins recently. It was important to have a good start on him and be ready for this game," explained Danault, who scored his fourth goal of the season against the Kings, tying a personal best. "It feels good. It was a big team effort, and Carey Price made some huge saves at key times. It was a good win for the boys."

Indeed, Price continues to be outstanding for the Canadiens, setting a new team record on Thursday with his ninth-straight win to start the season, besting Charlie Hodge's eight in 1960-61.Video: LAK@MTL: Price's spectacular glove save on Kopitar

But even the star of the show was impressed by the effort put forth in front of him.

"It was our best game collectively in a while, for sure. I thought we utilised our speed well," underlined Price, who made 23 saves against the Kings. "They're a big heavy team and they were leaning on us a lot. We just kept our feet moving and maintained a bit of puck possession down low."

And keeping with the Hollywood theme on a night Ben Stiller was in the building, there was even a cliffhanger ending.Video: LAK@MTL: Ben Stiller takes in the Habs game

Having gone 9-0-0 at home to start the season, the Canadiens have now tied a team record set in 1953. That year, the Canadiens went 9-0-0 at the Forum before the Detroit Red Wings prevented the streak from hitting double digits.

We'll have to stay tuned to find out if more history is waiting to be made when the Red Wings are in town once again for home game No. 10 on Saturday.

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