QUEBEC CITY - With just one game now remaining on the preseason schedule, the Canadiens are leaving Quebec City a little closer to being regular season ready.
Facing a near-complete Bruins team on Tuesday night that featured the likes of Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron, the Habs countered with a veteran-heavy lineup of their own. Even with the Canadiens' longtime leaders and usual snipers in action, the team's young guns still found a way to stand out.
Three different Habs players found the back of the net on Tuesday for the first time in the 2016-17 preseason, including Artturi Lehkonen, who scored his first-ever goal in a Canadiens uniform against the Bruins. While he's been impressing his teammates and coaches alike with his work away from the puck throughout training camp, the Finnish forward was happy to finally find a way to light the lamp as a Hab.
Video: Artturi Lehkonen gets his first
"You also have to show you have other qualities in a game that you can bring to the team [other than scoring goals]. You just try not to think about it too much, but of course I was thinking about it," admitted the 21-year-old winger, who already has two seasons of pro experience under his belt with Frolunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League.
"Everyone wants to score goals. But when you're actually in the game, you don't really think about it. You just try to do what's best for the team and you work your ass off to show what you can do," stressed Lehkonen, who rang one off the post in the first period before finding his way onto the scoresheet in the second period.
While Tuesday's 4-3 comeback win over the Bruins won't earn the Canadiens any points in the standings, rallying back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits at various points in the game against a longtime rival - even in preseason play - can go a long way towards building confidence heading into the regular season. The same can be said for goals and assists that will be wiped clean from the stats sheets come October 13.
Video: Carr with the moves
"Yeah, it's a preseason goal, and I got one the other night that kind of took the weight a little bit off my shoulders but it was still good to see that one go in," shared Daniel Carr, who scooped up a nice chip pass from Michael McCarron and deked his way around Rask to pot the game winner with less than five minutes to go in the game. "I think it just helps you relax, especially when they have Rask in the net. He's an elite goalie in the league and I think it just shows you that you can score in this league. It's a confidence thing. Toronto had a good lineup the other night so you have to give them a lot of respect, but there was a fast pace out there tonight and it was great."
Alex Galchenyuk and Jeff Petry also scored their first goals of the preseason in the outing, the latter of whom wired a one-timer past Rask on the power play to get the Habs on the board.
Alexander Radulov picked up an assist in his Quebec City homecoming a decade after playing his last game as a member of the Remparts. The 30-year-old sniper had a chance to reunite with friends and family from his Junior days prior to puck drop, but he also wanted to make sure he and his new teammates made the most of their second-last game before the start of the season.
"It was a hard a game. We were down 2-0 and we were turning the puck over," said Radulov, who assisted on Lehkonen's goal in their first game playing together on the same line. "Then we started playing better within the system and we did well during the second part of the game. We ended up getting the 'W', which is good.
"I was a little nervous before the game because everybody was cheering my name and yelling for me," added the Russian sniper, who racked up 227 points in 127 games over two QMJHL seasons with the Remparts from 2004 to 2006. "But it was great tonight. It was really special for me."