TORONTO – Sometimes the best way to win is to play like you have nothing to lose.
Looking to turn their season around, the Canadiens have been stressing the value of taking things one game at a time. Stringing together four-straight wins for the first time since late October, they seem to be practicing what they’ve preached. It also helps when the guys in the room are playing for each other as much as they are for points in the standings.
“I think our attitude has a lot to do with it – everybody is a lot more positive,” described Carey Price, who recorded his fourth shutout of the year – and the second in his last four starts – in a 5-0 win over the Leafs. “I think we’re a lot easier on each other and we’re sticking up for each other. Gripping the sticks doesn’t help and when you have supportive teammates it makes things easier.”
It also doesn’t hurt when your All-Star netminder stops every shot fired in his direction and chips in on offense.
“I actually said to someone on the bench that Carey looked so calm out there that I didn’t think they were going to score a goal,” confessed Max Pacioretty of Price, who added an eighth career assist to his record in the third period. “Good thing I didn’t jinx him! It’s definitely motivating when he’s playing like that because you want to win it for him and you want to give him the shutout.”
For the 24-year-old goaltender, the secret formula for his stellar performance isn’t hard to figure out.
“I’m just trying to keep it simple, more or less,” he explained. “The last few games I’ve just been trying to stay sound and not overcomplicate things. It’s been a lot of fun. Winning is awesome; it’s better than losing.”
In the epitome of a team effort, five different Canadiens found the back of the net, all but one Habs skater dished out at least one hit – including nine by Alexei Emelin alone – and the team combined for 21 blocked shots in the outing.
“Everyone obviously pitched in,” shared Pacioretty, who scored his team-leading 23rd goal of the season on Saturday night. “Still, we had a few breakdowns and Carey came up big for us a couple times. If we want to go further and if we want to make the playoffs we’ve got to play for 60 minutes. It’s great to get the win but there’s still some work to do.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Boxscore: Canadiens-Maple Leafs
The Numbers Game - Feb. 11, 2012