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Jet-fueled offense

Habs score seven, outlast Jets in Winnipeg.

by Stefan Nechay @canadiensmtl /

WINNIPEG -- The Habs outlasted the Jets in a hockey dogfight on Wednesday night.

Although Montreal jumped out to an early 2-0 lead just 4:19 in the first, the Jets would tie things up at two apiece less than 10 minutes later, setting the table for an exciting back-and-forth affair.

Fortunately for the Habs faithful at the MTS Centre however, once Tomas Plekanec put the Canadiens back up 3-2 at 14:01 -- chasing Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck in the process -- Montreal never looked back.

"A lot of goals were scored, so we've got to play tighter defensively," pointed out Phillip Danault, who netted what would turn out to be the game-winner at 4:31 in the second. "If we keep playing this way offensively while paying attention to the details on defense, we'll be a tough team to beat."

With 11 goals scored across both teams, Wednesday's contest was a barnburner, with the Habs opening the first and second periods with goals 57 and 53 seconds in, respectively.

It's not every night that lighting the lamp 4:10 into the third can be considered a "slow" start to the frame, after all.

"We had everybody going -- we had four lines rolling -- and that's important, especially on the road," added Pacioretty, who led the Habs with seven shots, in addition to picking up an assist. "When you have the confidence to put all four lines out there in any situation, it gets the tempo of the game up and we were able to play with a lot of pace tonight."

Speaking of tempo, Danault turned on the, ahem -- jets -- just before going end-to-end en route to tallying the game winner.

It was a sight to behold as the 23-year-old traversed the entire ice surface -- beginning from behind his own net, while undressing the Winnipeg defense along the way to score.

"It was a big call by [Shea Weber]. He saw me behind the net, I saw all the space in front of me, and it ended up being a goal," described the night's first star, who also opened the night's scoring. "My last one like that was in the AHL, I believe. My first NHL goal was good too, but I don't think I've ever scored one coast-to-coast like that. Maybe in Junior, back in the day."

The question now, after potting seven on the road, is will the Habs have enough time to refuel in St. Paul before going back at it in less than 24 hours against the Wild?

"We can't worry about stuff like travel and the schedule. Minnesota is a tough place to play, with a strong team that doesn't give up many chances," underlined Pacioretty. "It's up to us to find our legs right from the start and make sure we give our best."


Aside from the win, a beneficiary of Wednesday's seven goals -- on a personal note -- was goaltender Al Montoya.

The former Winnipeg Jet got his first start in the Manitoban capital after spending two seasons with the Jets between 2012 and 2014.

"Oh gosh, any time your team scores seven, you want to make sure you're on the winning side of it. It was an up and down kind of game -- we knew they had the speed -- but I think we did a heck of a job keeping them in front of us all night," dished the 6-foot-2, 209-pounder who earned his sixth win of the season with the effort. "Hats off to the guys who put a bunch in the net and let us come out with a W."

With the win, Montoya has now come back to haunt three of his former teams after getting the start in as many opportunities.

After sinking the Islanders and Panthers on October 26 and December 29, respectively, on Wednesday it was the Jets turn to be burned by the American keeper.

"Maybe I've just got to stop moving around so much so I don't have so many teams to beat up on," concluded the 31-year-old with a laugh.

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