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Chipping away

Habs improve to 91 points on the season in overtime loss to Detroit

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL -- Al Montoya helped the Habs inch one point closer to a playoff spot on Tuesday.

Still, the Canadiens couldn't help but feel that on any other night his 34-save effort would have probably been worth two.

"I thought Monty was awesome tonight. He played really well, he kept us in the game, and he gave us a chance to earn that point. He definitely deserved better," underlined head coach Claude Julien, who saw Montoya bounce back from an early goal to keep the Habs in it until OT. "We should have scored more goals to help him out. He certainly deserved the win after the way he played. I liked his game a lot."

Video: Julien's postgame press conference vs. DET

Indeed, there was a lot to like from the American netminder, who was the busiest player on the ice as the Habs were outshot 6-0 in the extra frame.

"I wish we got a better outcome for him, because he played great -- especially in overtime," added captain Max Pacioretty. "He gave us a chance to get that extra point, but we gave up too many chances on him."

But there were no hard feelings from the 32-year-old, who made his first start for the Habs since a March 9 outing in Calgary.

Chalk it up to the nature of the game.

"It's 3-on-3, you know? You hope you make that one save so you can send the team down the other way, but we've been in quite a few of these this year and they're big points either way," described Montoya, who is now 8-6-4 on the season. "We stuck around this one, showed some character, and got a big point."

And with nine games to go on the regular season schedule, the Habs will take all the points they can get in a tight Atlantic Division -- while slowly shifting into playoff mode along the way.

"There's not much time left in the season here -- only a few games. Personally myself, I just want to get going and be ready," continued the Chicago native. "I think the team did a great job. It was a low-scoring game, but that's how they are at this time of year. It's about managing the score and being able to stay in there, so we gave ourselves a chance tonight."

Video: Montoya on his strong outing


Montoya wasn't alone in his heroics on Tuesday, as Artturi Lehkonen made the extra point possible with 2:29 to go in regulation.

The 21-year-old forward meanwhile, couldn't have done it without a little on-ice encouragement from his teammates.

"There was a loose puck in our own end, and guys were just yelling 'skate! skate! skate!' so I told myself, 'alright, I'll skate this one in'," explained Lehkonen, who improved to 13 goals in his rookie NHL campaign. "[Detroit was] making a change, so there was a lot of room in the neutral zone, and then when I got into their zone, I just tried to shoot it on the net and it was good that it went in."

It was a first goal in seven games for the Finnish forward, at a time of year when lighting the lamp comes at a premium.

"It was a great play by Lehky. He was able to get us a point, but we still would have liked to get the second one for Monty," concluded Pacioretty. "That's the way it went tonight, [...] and now we'll move on and try to get better."

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