MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre.
'I think it honestly gave us a boost'
The Canadiens were desperately looking for a spark to get back on the winning back, and it came in the form of the Captains' Reunion to celebrate the franchise's 110th birthday.
With 11 retired captains in the building in conjunction with the festivities, Claude Julien's troops snapped their eight-game winless streak and secured their first victory since November 15.
According to captain Shea Weber, the presence of those legends definitely played an integral part in righting the ship against the Islanders.
"I think it honestly gave us a boost. It was an honor for all of us to be able to wear those jerseys in warmups. It's pretty special," stated Weber, who capped the scoring with an empty-netter late in the third period. "I can't say enough about how neat that was. It's definitely something I'll never forget for the rest of my life. I'm sure these guys won't either."
Likewise, goaltender Carey Price credited the support of the Habs' special guests for a result finally worth smiling about.
"It's always inspiring to see all that leadership on the ice. It's a lot of games played there, and a lot of hard games played," praised Price. "It's definitely inspiring. I think it's important for our young players to understand the legacy that's been laid down for everybody else to follow."
Celebrations like these aren't a regular occurrence, of course, but there's no denying the bonding effect it had on the group as a whole.
"I hope it doesn't take that every night to win games," joked Weber. "I felt like everyone in here had a boost, especially with the way things were going. It was kind of a good thing for us to see that and be a part of that, kind of unite with that and use that."
Not so fast
The Canadiens have every right to be pleased with their effort versus the Islanders, but they still have a long way to go to rebound from their recent struggles.
Assistant captain Brendan Gallagher made that abundantly clear after the final buzzer.
"It's nice, but I think we can enjoy it for a little bit. Obviously, remember this feeling for a while, but we know the situation we're in. We can't afford to relax now," insisted Gallagher, who scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season on Tuesday night. "I think the last few games we really bought into the way we have to play. It's taken a little longer than we would've hoped, but we got a result tonight and hopefully this can be a big thing for us going forward."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on building on a huge win
Like Gallagher, Weber wasn't getting too amped up about the win, especially with a back-to-back set against the Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers on the horizon to close out the week.
"This isn't the answer. It's one step in the right direction," explained Weber. "Hopefully this can build some confidence, and moving forward we can play with that confidence and not be sitting back."
There was no sitting back against Barry Trotz's club.
Not only did Julien's contingent outshoot their opponents by a 40-23 margin, but they played a solid defensive game as well and amassed 23 blocked shots along the way.
"That's definitely what we were aiming for," insisted Price. "There was no question that we've definitely progressed towards this evening, but it's nice to get rewarded for our efforts."
Making an impression
Young gun Nick Suzuki soaked up every single second of his on-ice experience during the Captains' Reunion.
The festivities clearly gave him something to aspire to down the road.
"As a young player, you want to be in those guys' shoes at the end, having a great career and being a captain of a team one day. I look up to those guys a lot," said Suzuki. "It's definitely a once-in-a-career kind of thing."
Players hope that winless streaks like the one the Canadiens just went through are equally rare, but they do happen from time to time over the course of an NHL career.
Admittedly, Suzuki is grateful to have dealt with this obstacle at the outset of his rookie campaign.
He believes it will better equip him for similar situations in the future, should they arise.
"At every point in someone's career, they're going to go through ups and downs. As a young player, you kind of want to get it out of the way so you know what to expect the next time if it happens," said Suzuki. "You're well-prepared for staying positive and just trying to keep everyone in check."
That's quite the mature response.