OTTAWA - Jeff Petry certainly made his presence felt in his return to active duty on Saturday night.
After missing the season-opener with a lower-body injury sustained in the preseason finale on October 6, the 28-year-old defenseman scored twice in the Canadiens' 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Petry, who spent a portion of his offseason recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia, hadn't made a regular season appearance since being forced to shut things down in late February and go under the knife in early March.
Getting back in the swing of things with the second multi-goal effort of his NHL career, though, was a nice way for the Ann Arbor, MI native to signal that his injury woes were clearly behind him and that all of his hard work to get back in game shape had paid off.
Video: MTL@OTT: Petry capitalizes with power-play goal
"Once the season starts, it's definitely a little big quicker than preseason and a little bit more physical, too, so it feels good to be back in a regular season game," shared Petry, who cut the Senators' lead to 2-1 with a power play goal late in the second period, before putting the Canadiens up 3-2 at the nine-minute mark of the third. "I felt good. Ideally, we'd like to get the win."
That's for sure. Nevertheless, Michel Therrien's troops collected three out of a possible four points during their first road trip of the year, demonstrating plenty of fight in Saturday night's defeat by battling back from a two-goal deficit through 20 minutes of play - in which they were outshot by a 13-6 margin - to ultimately take the lead with 11 minutes remaining in regulation time.
"I think we had a slow start in the first. We came in here in between periods and we said that we've just got to win a period and chip away at it," explained the Canadiens' No. 26, who logged 20 minutes of ice time, generated three shots on goal, and also dished out three hits in the shootout loss. "It showed that we could come back and battle back in the first test of the year. It's good to see the fight to come back and at least take it to overtime."
Video: MTL@OTT: Petry puts Habs ahead with his second goal
And, it was also good to see the Canadiens' power play click as well. Associate head coach Kirk Muller has been working tirelessly to get it going all preseason long, and it appears that it's well on its way to being back on track.
"It's just a new philosophy. We're moving the puck around and we're trying to establish the shot early," mentioned Petry, who, with his big shot, will surely be a mainstay on the back end in situations where the Canadiens are up a man. "When we do it well, the play opens up."
It goes without saying that the Canadiens' bench boss was pleased to have Petry back on the blue line doing exactly the types of things he knows he's capable of when he's fully healthy and playing at the top of his game.
"Jeff is an important part of our club. It was nice to see him score two goals. Even though the power play was over [on his second goal], we see it as a power play goal," praised Therrien. "I thought he was solid. He hadn't played in a really long time and he looked really sharp tonight."