BROSSARD - Here are a few key storylines from practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday.
High praise for Tuna
Tomas Tatar enjoyed quite the night against the New York Rangers on Thursday, scoring a dazzling goal on Alexandar Georgiev and earning an assist to help match the career high in points he set last season in Montreal.
Head coach Claude Julien was full of praise for the Slovakian winger on Friday.
"He has a good shot, he can score goals. He's a guy who competes hard. He's a guy who I could rarely say after a game that we didn't see him or he didn't show up. He comes to play every game," shared Julien of Tatar, who leads the Habs with 58 points (22G, 36A) this season. "He has a very good shot. Natural goal-scorers are hard to find, so we're happy to have him."
Video: Claude Julien's press conference
The Canadiens bench boss didn't reserve his compliments just for Tatar, either, pointing out that his line as a whole has been doing some very good work for the club once again in 2019-20.
"They've been a good line all season, because they play against the best lines on the other team. When the three of them are on point, they'll play the majority of the game in the offensive zone instead of in our end," added Julien of Montreal's top line consisting of Tatar, Phillip Danault, and Brendan Gallagher. "That's what's made them successful, and that's why we're often able to counter the other teams' top lines."
Searching for 60
That line may be gelling well, but the Canadiens still found themselves on the losing end in the New York game despite getting ahead 2-0 before the game was 24 minutes old.
Danault recognizes it's something his squad needs to keep working at.
"We've talked about it a lot, and we hear it being talked about everywhere. Want it, or don't want it, it's in our heads, but it's on us to stay strong mentally and to be able to play a full 60 minutes," outlined Danault, who sits second in team scoring with 43 points (12G, 31A). "We played 40 minutes yesterday and we were solid. So it's that extra 20 minutes we have to go after. If you look at it like that, it's like five minutes more per game, so it should be possible."
Video: Phillip Danault on the energy in the room
Despite having squandered another lead in front of the home crowd, Danault acknowledged that the Bell Centre faithful have been understanding as the Canadiens have tried to fix their game.
"The fans are really behind us. You also can't hide that we're working really hard. It's just that in the third period, it's always a bit harder," expressed the Victoriaville native. "It's something we have to work on, but I think the fans see the effort we're putting in. Their patience is really important for us."
Good news for Xavier
Following Friday's practice, Julien confirmed that Xavier Ouellet - who suffered a concussion on Thursday against Washington - had been cleared for contact at practice.
And though the 26-year-old defenseman was still not given the green light for game action, he is definitely relieved to have progressed so quickly.
"I'm really happy that it wasn't as bad as it seemed. I was feeling better the days afterward, so it was about following the protocol and trusting the doctors," described Ouellet, who was called up from the AHL's Laval Rocket on February 6. "From there, I was improving every day; I feel good today."
Video: Xavier Ouellet on the recovery from his concussion
Weber: Reliving the Golden Goal
Ten years ago to the day, Canadians from coast to coast were celebrating Sidney Crosby's Golden Goal to seal the deal for Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
It was a goal seen across the country. But despite his proximity to Crosby at the moment, Shea Weber didn't actually see the momentous marker with his own eyes.
"I just got off the ice; I was changing. So I sat down and then everyone was jumping off the bench, so I didn't have a chance to catch my breath," recounted Weber. "But at that point, I don't think it really mattered."
Video: Shea Weber on Crosby's golden goal
What did matter, for Weber, was that he got to play for his country in his home province, with many people important to him able to witness the achievement up close.
"Just being home in general, it's so close to home for me; I had all my family there. My mom and grandpa and people that aren't with us now were there and got to enjoy the special moment," recalled the Canadiens captain. "That's something that probably sticks out the most for me.
The Canadiens are scheduled to hold a morning skate at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday ahead of their 7:00 p.m. showdown with the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre. For tickets to the game, click here.