MONTREAL - Sixty-two seconds. That's all the Canadiens needed to send the New York Rangers back home empty-handed on Saturday night.
Alexei Emelin, Max Pacioretty and Paul Byron all lit the lamp behind Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist between the 10:53 and 11:55 marks of the third period to pace Michel Therrien's troops to a 5-4 comeback win at the Bell Centre - a victory that emphatically put Thursday night's big-time defeat in Minnesota behind them.
Pacioretty's goal, which proved to be the game-winner, was his 20th of the year. It marked the fifth 20-goal campaign of his career, and the fourth straight season that the Canadiens' captain had hit that mark.
Make no mistake about it, though, the Canadiens could easily have gotten down on themselves at times against Alain Vigneault's contingent, specifically when it came to having a pair of Coach's Challenge reviews go against them, both of which came on the basis of suspected goaltender interference.
Video: Max Pacioretty on the big win over the Rangers
After Phillip Danault was denied the game's opening goal just four minutes into the game because it was deemed that Andrew Shaw had interfered with Rangers starter Antti Raanta, Rick Nash's tally was called a good goal 6:20 into the middle frame even though it appeared that forward Kevin Hayes had taken Carey Price out of the play following his breakaway attempt, leaving Nash with a wide open net.
Fortunately, none of that mattered in the end, as the Canadiens blitzed their Eastern Conference counterparts in the latter stages of regulation time to walk away with their 27th win of the season.
"It was a big game for the whole team with the way we came back in the third. It was a big effort. We showed some character. That's our work ethic, too. I think we demonstrated our identity in that game. It was a big win by everybody here," said Danault, who picked up his 13th, 14th and 15th assists of the season on Saturday night. "Mentally, we could have gotten down, but we have character. Off the ice, we have really great chemistry and it shows on the ice. It's good to see and I'm proud of the guys. It's a nice team win."
Therrien echoed those same thoughts following a win in which he watched his group stick with it before dishing out the knockout punch to become the third team in the League to reach the 60-point plateau on the year.
"There was a lot of emotion. The fans really created an extraordinary atmosphere, a playoff-like atmosphere. It gave our players extra energy. They showed a lot of character to come back in this game," said Therrien, who was behind the bench for his 800th career game on Saturday night. "We never give up. We always think we can win, even if we're down by a goal. We want to continue playing and eventually we're hoping to be rewarded. It happens sometimes."
For his part, Alex Galchenyuk enjoyed a triumphant return to the lineup after missing 18 games with a knee injury, notching his 10th goal of the season.
"I found the first couple of shifts in the first period to be kind of tough because timing-wise and thinking-wise there was a lot to get used to," admitted Galchenyuk, who suited up for the first time since going down on December 4 in Los Angeles and logged 16:37 of ice time. "I thought in the second period I got in the game a little more and got involved more. Of course the timing might still be off and some things won't happen right away, but we'll continue to stay patient and work on it and get better."
Unfortunately, Andrew Shaw's return after a 14-game absence due to concussion-like symptoms wasn't equally as productive on the scoresheet. He played just 5:20 before being given a game misconduct following a high hit on Rangers forward Jesper Fast, amassing 22 penalty minutes on the night.
Therrien didn't waste any time coming to Shaw's defense when asked what he thought of his charge being given the gate with just over three minutes remaining in the first period.
Video: Michel Therrien on the Canadiens' determination
"I don't agree with the decision by the referee. Here's a guy who was hit in the head three weeks ago and suffered a concussion, and there wasn't a penalty on the play. He finished his check a little bit late, hit the player's chest and was given five minutes for it," stressed Therrien. "I didn't agree with the decision."
That being said, the Canadiens will take their latest W and move on to their next challenge which will come on Monday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
This particular game, though, and the way everything played out, will definitely be a source of inspiration going forward.
"There's not really a sense of panic going into the third period when we know our game is decent, but we know that everyone's on board and everyone is going to do what it takes to win the game. I think we deserved the bounces we got in the third," said Pacioretty. "It was like the building exploded [when we scored those three goals]. It was just a lot of fun and a lot of great energy from the group. We've got to build off that in Detroit."