OTTAWA – The Habs got a head start on their New Year’s resolutions in Ottawa.
Heading into the Christmas break riding a five game losing streak, the Canadiens promised to take some time to reflect on what they needed to do better to start winning hockey games. Looks like they found their answer.
A few Habs in particular came into Ottawa looking to get their groove back, including Lars Eller, who went from being a healthy scratch last week to centering the top line with Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty on Tuesday night. The 22-year-old pivot responded by scoring his fourth goal of the season and winning 56% of his draws in his night’s work.
“I just wanted to get in there and contribute and it felt good to do that today. The whole team was going and we finally had a lot of bounces that went our way,” explained Eller, who tied the game at one with a short-handed goal in the first period. “The floodgates opened for us a little bit; we got one, then we got two and they just kept coming from there.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had that feeling on the team,” he continued. “It doesn’t necessarily just carry over to the next game automatically but it was big for us tonight. Our preparation was the same but we had a couple of days off and tonight was a bit of a fresh start for us. That’s exactly what we needed.”
Carrying a 10-game scoring slump into Tuesday’s game, few players were as eager to find the back of the net as Michael Cammalleri, who finally snapped his scoreless steak in the first period. For the 28-year-old sniper, firing home the Louis Leblanc rebound was about more than just being in the right place at the right time.
“It’s the French connection there – I guess I’ve got to learn more French,” joked Cammalleri, who flanked Leblanc and David Desharnais for the first time this season. “I’ve always enjoyed playing with Davey. He plays with a very high level of hockey I.Q. and Louis’ compete level was great and he was battling hard. Winning makes everything fun. It’s always nice to score but they haven’t come as regularly as I would’ve liked, for sure, so it feels good.”
With the 6-2 win, all 20 players on the Habs bench were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief, but even they likely weren’t as relieved as the guy standing behind it.
“Relief is one word [for it]. I would’ve taken it a couple of games earlier,” offered Randy Cunneyworth with a laugh after getting his first win as the Habs head coach on Tuesday night. “A win is a win and hopefully it’s the start of many more.”
Looking to ignite his offense, the former-Sens-captain-turned-Canadiens-coach tweaked his lineup ahead of Tuesday’s game. His offensive juggling resulted in his team’s highest-scoring game of the season.
“There’s no secret. We had it in our minds that we had to get the puck to the net,” described Cunneyworth, who played four seasons for the Senators from 1994-95 to 1997-98. “We had a good team effort overall and Carey was solid in the net. I think that puts a little doubt in the opposition’s mind when he plays like that and we can’t win without that kind of goaltending. You have to be pleased with the effort but it’s something we have to build on.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - Dec. 27, 2011
Back to business
Reflect and rejuvenate