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MTL@WSH: Collective effort is key

With another do-or-die game on the horizon, the Canadiens know they'll need everyone at their best on Thursday in D.C.

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

WASHINGTON - The Habs could find themselves back in the playoff picture with a win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

Claude Julien's troops could leapfrog the Columbus Blue Jackets, who only play their next game on Friday night.

That said, the task won't be easy against the defending Stanley Cup champs and the League's top goal-scorer, Alex Ovechkin. The Habs head coach acknowledges that his players will have to be very alert tonight when the Russian captain is on the ice.

"I don't have the last change tonight. It's a bit more difficult. We'll have to be aware when he's on the ice," mentioned Julien. "We're going to have to play the same way we did the past two games."

Phillip Danault knows a thing or two about going up against the opposing team's best, and the Habs centerman believes Thursday's game is another big test for him and his team.

"It's a big challenge defensively. He takes up a lot of space, he can deliver some big hits. He's a pretty complete player," outlined Danault of Ovechkin. "We're going to have to pay attention to his shot, which can do some damage."

Video: Phillip Danault on the game against the Capitals

The Habs will need to count on contributions from all four forward lines, just like they had last game. Against Tampa Bay, the fourth line scored an important goal in the first period, with Nate Thompson taking the credit for that one.

The third line, made up of Jordan Weal, Jonathan Drouin, and Joel Armia, added their own output for the cause with Armia getting his 13th of the season.

Weal, acquired from the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline, affirms it's been easy adjusting to playing with his new linemates.

"Drou's got so much talent out there on the left side. He can skate like the wind, he can make plays. He's oozing with skill and you just have to get him the puck," explained Weal, who has three goals and eight points in 14 games as a Hab. "And Armi and myself, we just try and win battles and get it to him. Good things are going to happen."

Video: Weal on getting contributions from all four lines

His coach knows that each and every player in the lineup will have to provide for the team if the Canadiens hope to come away victorious in the American capital.

"It's going to take the whole team to win tonight. That's what we've continued to ask of our players the past few games," expressed Julien. "Everyone needs to bring their best. That's what makes us successful."

Even if the contest won't be played in front of their raucous and loyal fans, the Canadiens can still feel the excitement surrounding the team at this stage of the season.

"We know the kind of support we have in Montreal. The best thing we can do for them is to win our next two games and get into the playoffs," added the veteran bench boss. "That's what we want to give them. I could also say that the players in the locker room deserve it. The same goes for our fans."

Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference @ WSH

Surely, the Habs would like to leave it all on the ice at Capital One Arena on Thursday.

"We're desperate. We're playing with fire in our eyes and we're hungry for the win. We really want to make the playoffs," concluded Danault. "We need a big win tonight and the Bell Centre will be on fire on Saturday."

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. against Washington.

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