MONTREAL – It was so far, so good for the everything but the kitchen sink line Bob Gainey threw at the Thrashers, as Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev were unstoppable in their debut as a trio.
Highlight reel goals. Check. A combined 11 points on the night. Check. A huge win. Check. With Tanguay, Koivu and Kovalev leading the way, the Canadiens threw their hats back into the playoff ring in explosive fashion.
“It was nice to get a few goals tonight and loosen up a little bit,” said Koivu after scoring a goal and adding a pair of helpers. “It definitely gave us a boost to have Bob put us together as a line. We had to start somewhere and hopefully a win like this can give us the confidence we’ll need down the stretch.”
With their losing streak snapped at five and now 83 points on the year, the Habs strengthened their grip on the No. 8 spot and find themselves two points clear of the Panthers with two more wins than Florida.
“This is huge for us a team, all of us even for Carey. We all needed a good game to build from,” said Kovalev, who had two goals and an assist on the night. “To be honest, we didn’t have a choice but to respond. It’s only one game, but it was a good stride forward. It didn’t take long to get that chemistry going as a line and that’s how you have to play: by feeling, by experience.”
After potting a pair of goals and adding three assists, Tanguay was all smiles in his dressing room stall after he, Kovalev and Koivu were named the first, second and third stars of the game, respectively.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to do this every night, but it feels good that’s for sure,” said Tanguay whose five-point outburst was his most explosive night as a Hab and his personal high matched two other times in his career. “Confidence can be a fragile thing and thanks to a couple of goals we were able to find it again, I think. We worked hard and got a few good bounces. Now we can rest a bit and get back at it on Thursday against Tampa Bay.”
The man behind the assembly of the Habs’ potent new No. 1 line, Gainey was pleased with the early results of his experiment.
“They played like three players who wanted to play together,” understated a visibly content Gainey. “We did a lot of good things tonight and this is only the beginning.” Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
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