MONTREAL - The Wizard of Oz may not have been on the agenda at the Canadiens' video sessions the past few days, but you can forgive them for repeating that there's no place like home after Tuesday night's game against the Panthers.
In their first game back from a three-game California road swing, the Habs fell behind early in the second period, but fed off the Bell Centre energy to stay in the game and emerge with a decisive 5-1 win.
In a penalty-filled second period for Florida, Alex Galchenyuk capitalized on the man advantage to open the scoring for the Habs and, in the process, opened the offensive floodgates for the home side.
"The building was alive. Obviously, that goal was an even bigger boost. Guys just kept feeding off of that," explained Shea Weber. "I thought our penalty kill was solid for us even before that. We got a little bit of momentum and we got rewarded on the power play. We've had some good opportunities in the last few games, we just haven't been getting the goals. I thought it paid off tonight."
Video: Shea Weber on the win
A minute and 35 seconds after Galchenyuk tied the game, the Canadiens were up 3-1 on goals by Weber and Brendan Gallagher, with the latter two coming a mere 17 seconds apart. If anyone in the crowd wasn't into it after the first Habs goal, the building was certainly roaring by the time Brendan Gallagher's quick shot beat Florida netminder James Reimer for the insurance marker.
"For sure, especially at the Bell Centre when you score a first goal, there's energy in the building. It's important for the next guys to get on the ice to have a good shift. I think we did that and Chucky's goal definitely put wind in our sails a bit and we started attacking and getting scoring chances," said Jonathan Drouin, the game's third star with two assists and a plus-one rating. "I loved the way we reacted after the first goal, especially given the situation we've been in. It was huge for our team and we continued the whole game."
Video: Drouin on Galchenyuk providing a momentum shift
Weber's booming shot made its way past Reimer a second time midway through the third period, and captain Max Pacioretty rounded out the scoring just under two minutes later.
The Canadiens enjoyed a successful outing on special teams, going 2-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. Combine that with Weber's two-goal, seven-shot night and a stellar performance in goal from Carey Price, and you can see why the Canadiens came out on top in convincing fashion.
"I liked the way we finished the game, especially in the third. We were still a bit on our heels at the beginning, but slowly, after we scored the first goal, that took off a lot of pressure. The second one was definitely a big goal for us, too," head coach Claude Julien said of his troops, who directed 37 shots on the Panthers' net. "Once we scored, our team started showing more of what we've been looking for and in the third, I thought we did a good job of working a full 60 minutes."
Playing a complete game - it's been an oft-repeated message as the Canadiens tried to work their way out of their recent losing streak. And though they may have allowed the Panthers some breathing room at times, their effort on Tuesday showed that a consistent night's work would indeed yield them the reward of two points in the bank.
Video: Carey Price on the importance of being resilient
"It's always good to see a team that keeps fighting after something goes wrong. We kept pushing," described Price. "I think that's a valuable lesson for us - that even if something goes wrong, we need to park it and keep moving forward."
That said, don't think the Canadiens will be celebrating this one for too long. The Kings are in town on Thursday, and the Rangers visit on Saturday night. If they plan on repeating their performance against Florida, they'll need to be getting back to business - and fast.
"That's my mentality - win or lose, just move on. It's great to win, but we're not going to sit on it for too long," concluded Price. "We have to prepare for the next one."