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FLA@MTL: It's only preseason, but...

Habs take a spirited 3-1 win over Panthers in physical preseason action

by Steven Nechay CanadiensMTL /

It is indeed still preseason, but maybe someone forgot to tell the Panthers and Habs.

After all, when a pair of fights break out and 13 different penalties -- including a 10-minute misconduct -- are handed out over the final 7:56 of play, usually there are points on the line.

But even if Friday was just for bragging rights, Andrew Shaw still liked what he saw.

"You look at our record, and I know it's only preseason, but we didn't have a win yet," admitted the 26-year-old, who scored for a second consecutive game. "So to go out there and battle and compete like that, with passion -- and to show character -- it's good to see."

Video: FLA@MTL: Shaw goes backhand for nifty breakaway goal

Jared McCann and Brandon Davidson were first to drop the gloves at 12:04 in the third, followed by Derek Mackenzie and Peter Holland less than two minutes later, at 13:51. The pair of majors were bookended by a myriad of roughing calls on both sides in the final frame.

"They probably could have defused the situation by throwing some penalties earlier, but it happens," continued Shaw, who nevertheless managed to stay out of the box while picking up a goal and an assist en route to being named the night's second star. "It's hockey, it's fun, and we all love it. That's why we play the game."

Video: Andrew Shaw on the intensity against Florida

In fact, not even the night's first star could avoid the rough stuff.

"We needed to show intensity. We couldn't have a preseason mentality anymore, with only one exhibition game left to play," stressed Paul Byron, who scored twice in the opening 40, then got called for roughing and slashing in the final 20. "We needed to play intense hockey and show that we're ready for the regular season."

"Everyone played well, and the team fought hard," added the 28-year-old. "It was the kind of effort we needed, and it's because of that effort we won."

Video: Paul Byron on his offensive production

With a single preseason game now remaining on the schedule, head coach Claude Julien likewise was pleased with what he saw on Friday night.

"If you look at the intensity of our team tonight, how we battled… in the scrums, we were all in there and we stuck up for each other. On the forecheck we were a lot more aggressive and because of that we were turning pucks over. A lot of good things were happening, which I think was a step in the right direction," described the Habs bench boss, as three different players enjoyed a multi-point night against Florida. "There were still some mistakes made, and still some parts of our game that we'd like to fix, but I don't think any team in the league right now feels like they're at 100 percent yet, so we're okay. Hopefully tomorrow we minimize some more mistakes and keep getting better, but I definitely liked the effort tonight."

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