DALLAS - While the Canadiens' injury woes continue, Max Pacioretty is playing his best hockey to help keep things trending in the right direction.
Over the last few weeks, the Canadiens' depth has truly been put to the test. With several soldiers already on the sidelines for quite a while, two more players went down on Wednesday night in Dallas as both Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron were forced to leave the game against the Stars.
Despite all of those obstacles, though, the Canadiens continue to collect wins and put points in the bank on a consistent basis. And, at the same time, the Canadiens' captain is putting his full scoring touch on display following a slower than usual start to the season in that department.
Video: Max Pacioretty on the OT win in Dallas
Twenty-four hours after settling things in overtime in Nashville against the Predators, the Canadiens' captain struck again in the extra frame to lift his squad to another road win - a 4-3 victory over the Stars.
"It feels good to win. The road hasn't been perfect for us this year. We've had five overtime games in a row now. We weren't great in overtime, so maybe this is a little bit of a blessing that we've played this many overtime games in a row because we've gotten a lot better at it. But, it definitely feels good to get two points tonight after a big win last night [in Nashville]," stressed Pacioretty, who scored his 17th and 18th goals of the year.
The adversity the Canadiens' were forced to deal with last season clearly taught them a thing or two about themselves in order to avoid a similar scenario from repeating itself when players went down.
In fact, it was just over a year ago that the Canadiens suffered a 6-2 loss at the hands of the Stars at the American Airlines Center, and Pacioretty lost is cool, somewhat, with the media. Twelve months later, the 28-year-old forward is a different man, one who knows exactly what he has to do in order to succeed.
Video: MTL@DAL: Pacioretty pots OT winner, sets Habs' record
"I stood in this very stall last year, and I think I had a pretty remembered interview where I was in a tough situation, and it just feels a lot different right now. I think of those last 10-12 minutes of that third period. I know we gave up a goal, but everybody really had the right mindset and we're playing for the two points. We bought into that system because we know it works. We've had a lot of guys go down, and it's still been working. I'm just really proud of the guys," said Pacioretty, who became the Canadiens' franchise leader in overtime goals on Wednesday night with his eighth career tally in extra time.
Now in his ninth season in Montreal, Pacioretty has steadily earned the respect of his teammates over the years - and the majority of those teammates have been the same for a while. But, it hasn't taken newcomers to the Montreal locker room long to see that Pacioretty isn't just a dynamic player on the ice, but an equally energetic player off it, too, particularly when it comes to bringing his teammates together night after night.
"I've only known Max for a little bit, but in the time I've known him, he's a fantastic guy, a fantastic leader, and the weight that he carries in this locker room goes a long way. As players and teammates, we really respect that. Then, to top it off, what he can do on the ice, are you kidding me? It's fantastic. We'll take it any night," said Montoya, who registered his fifth win of the season on Wednesday night.
Video: MTL@DAL: Pacioretty snaps puck in off post for PPG
With one game remaining on a seven-game road swing that began just before Christmas, the Canadiens won't play again before Saturday night when they take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto. That will undoubtedly give Pacioretty and the rest of Michel Therrien's troops valuable time to rest up and recharge. Nevertheless, with the way they're playing right now, it's safe to say they wouldn't necessarily mind getting back to business as soon as possible.