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MTL@BUF: Drouin it all

Jonathan Drouin earns point in Habs debut, scores shootout winner in Buffalo

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

BUFFALO -- An assist to open the Habs scoring, a shootout winner to seal the deal, and 20:05 of ice time for Jonathan Drouin in his Canadiens debut. Talk about first impressions.

When Drouin was acquired during the offseason, the expectation was that he would bolster the team's production up front. On Thursday night the highly-skilled forward came as advertised.

"He played really well. We had a lot of chances, and he had a lot of chances," described Max Pacioretty, who with Drouin, led the team in shots with six and five, respectively. "It was a good start, but there are some areas we'd like to improve in. We had a lot of scoring chances, and with chemistry I think we can be even better at converting them."

Drouin set up the Habs captain at 17:56 in the first, with the latter potting the Canadiens' first goal of 2017-18 to get Montreal on the board.

Video: MTL@BUF: Pacioretty scores five-hole on one-timer

And while the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, QC native may not have been in town for long, he already knows that Pacioretty is money from his office.

"I wasn't going to shoot that one," admitted Drouin, who took a feed from Brendan Gallagher to set up Pacioretty's power play one-timer. "When I saw Max in his spot, I just tried to put it in his wheelhouse and he took a great shot five-hole."

But as sweet as the early returns were for the 22-year-old who also led Montreal in preseason scoring, the one point on the scoresheet is easily trumped by the two in the standings.

"The two points are huge for us," continued Drouin, as the Habs opened the campaign with a win in Buffalo for a second-consecutive year. "I don't think we were at our best -- there was more we could have done -- but I think when you come back to win a game you're trailing 2-1 in the third, it shows a lot of character."

Video: Max Pacioretty on getting the first win of the season

Indeed, Montreal was trailing with 11:59 to go in regulation before Phillip Danault potted the equalizer shorthanded.

"For a first game, we're happy with it," added Drouin. "It was a huge goal by Phil there at the end, and we would have liked to win it in overtime, but we'll take the two points."

Ultimately, with things left to the shootout, the first-year Hab went with an old trick for his new city.

"I've used that move quite a bit in Junior," revealed the former Halifax Moosehead, who was the tie-breaker's only goalscorer. "Plus, we actually had a lot of shootouts against Buffalo last year with Tampa. I've gone low blocker against [Robin Lehner] a lot, so maybe that's why he bit on my fake shot and opened up."

Video: MTL@BUF: Drouin nets sleek backhander in the shootout

But a lone shootout goal wouldn't have stood up for the win without a little help between the pipes.

Drouin has taken much of his change of scenery in stride since arriving in Montreal over the summer, but even he was a little in awe after seeing All-Star netminder Carey Price at work from up close, making 43 saves on the night.

"He's so calm. I've seen it playing against him in the past, and I know how good he is. It's so nice to have him back there, not panicking at all," concluded Drouin. "He makes the saves, and not many rebounds come off him. He was huge for us in the shootout, to not allow a single goal.

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