MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Saturday night's 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.
Jesperi told you so!
It's well documented that Jesperi Kotkaniemi's hockey idol growing up was none other than Joel Armia.
So after watching Armia score his team-leading sixth goal of the year versus Toronto - which ultimately proved to be the game-winner - the 19-year-old Finn was quick to praise his fellow countryman.
"Remember when I told you guys when the season started that he's a pretty good player? I think you're now seeing that side of him," said Kotkaniemi with a smile. "It's fun to watch live. I saw it when he was doing it in the Finnish League, and now he looks like exactly the same player he was in those days. He's very skilled. It's always fun to put the puck in the net. It warms my heart. He had a long road to come to this level, and he's finally there. I'm just happy to see that."
Video: TOR@MTL: Armia scores slick PPG early in 3rd
It marked the third straight game that Armia found the back of the net for the Canadiens.
The 26-year-old right-winger, who scored a career-high 13 goals in 57 games last season, attributes his early-season success to his consistent work ethic - and the confidence that comes with contributing to your team's cause on a regular basis.
"I think I'm just trying to work hard every night, and right now they're going in. I can't complain," said Armia. "Obviously when you get chances and you put the puck in and you create chances, it's going to bring your confidence up. It's easier to play with a lot of confidence than without it."
Video: Joel Armia on playing with confidence this season
Linemate Jonathan Drouin wholeheartedly endorses the six-year NHL veteran's skillset.
"I'm not surprised [by his play]. He has extraordinary talent with the puck. He has one of the best sticks in the game when it comes to picking up pucks or going to get it in the corner. It's incredible," praised Drouin. "He hasn't gotten a huge amount of credit in terms of what he's been able to do since the beginning of the year, but he deserves it."
Assistant captain Brendan Gallagher is certainly in agreement there.
"He's just taking advantage of a really good opportunity. He's always had it. He's a big, strong and talented player," mentioned Gallagher. "He's been able to really put it together, and you can see the confidence in his game. He's stepping up in big moments. It's not just the goals. He's making a lot of good plays all over the ice, and he's a big part of our group."
Drouin delivers again
For his part, Drouin enjoyed a solid night at the office as well with a pair of breakaway goals on Maple Leafs goaltender Michael Hutchinson.
His fourth and fifth markers of the season moved him into a tie for top spot on the Canadiens' scoring list with 10 points (5G, 5A), along with Gallagher (5G, 5A) and Max Domi (3G, 7A).
How does Drouin explain his positive results through 11 outings?
"It's easy for me to get involved every game. I'm around the puck, whether it's in the offensive zone or the defensive zone. I'm getting more pucks and I'm more involved," affirmed the 24-year-old left-winger, who earned first-star honors on Saturday night. "I'm having a lot of fun out there. I don't think I'm the only one. We have a good group of guys."
Video: TOR@MTL: Drouin slips puck by Hutchinson on breakaway
It was Drouin's first multi-goal game of the 2019-20 campaign, and based on the way he's playing, it certainly won't be his last.
Armia is big fan of hitting the ice alongside the Canadiens' No. 92.
"I think he's really easy to read for some reason. I love the style he's playing. He's really skilled, obviously. He can pass the puck really well and I enjoy playing with him," said Armia, before paying him another big compliment. "He's probably the most skilled player I ever played with."
Video: TOR@MTL: Drouin scores his second breakaway goal
Reilly returns to action
After watching the last six games from the press box as a healthy scratch, Mike Reilly suited up for the first time since October 10.
The 26-year-old defenseman logged 14:39 of ice time against the Maple Leafs, and collected an assist on the first goal of the game by Gallagher.
Reilly, who took Brett Kulak's spot in the lineup, was pleased with his performance in his return.
"I felt good. Honestly, practice for me is like a game in a way. I tried to be as sharp as I can and just be crisp," said Reilly, a product of the University of Minnesota. "I know it's not easy, but I wanted to just come and play. Don't worry about anything else. Just have fun with it and make plays."
Video: Mike Reilly on his effort versus the Maple Leafs
Head coach Claude Julien gave Reilly a good review during his postgame press conference.
"I think there were a lot of good things that came out from his game," said Julien. "He moved the puck well. He was assertive. Most of his game was very, very positive. I like what he brought. I thought he was well-focused and played a pretty good game for a guy who hadn't played in a while."