UNIONDALE – His first start may not have come quickly, but Alex Auld made sure to make the most of his Habs debut on Friday night.
Kicking aside 30 of the 31 shots he faced in his first regular season game in 207 days, Auld earned his inaugural first star nod of the season. More importantly to the man himself, he also helped his team earn two big road points.
|WATCH: Highlights from Auld's debut. |
“It’s a lot of fun to play but to get the win is a great feeling,” described Auld, who last suited up for the Habs on September 30 in a preseason game against the Sabres. “Right from the start, I felt pretty good and we were able to get that last goal to give us a little bit of a cushion which was nice.”
Fans looking for signs of rust on the veteran netminder after waiting nine games to get his first start clearly don’t know the nine-year NHLer very well.
“I’ve been saying all along that I’ve been getting ready and I knew what it took to prepare. I’ve waited like this before, so it’s nothing new for me,” explained Auld, who previously backed up Ed Belfour in Florida in 2006-07. “You obviously want to play and help the team win and hopefully get another shot.
“Sometimes in first games, you have the positive nervous energy and that comes with having a new team,” he added. “In some ways it makes it a little easier because you don’t have to get up for it, you just have to control your emotion to make sure it’s not too high. It’s just been about working on the details these last few weeks and tonight everything just worked out.”
Seeing Auld come up big after sitting out extended stretches is nothing new to Jacques Martin, who coached the former Panther during his stint in Florida.
“He had a solid performance and he looked comfortable out there right from the start of the game,” lauded the Habs’ bench boss. “He made some big saves for us in the second period and then again in the third to hold the lead.”
Notching the game-winner to help give his goalie his first ‘W’ as a Hab, Benoit Pouliot was equally impressed by the poise he saw from the 29-year-old against the Isles.
“It’s been a while for him – I think it’s been almost a year since he’s played a real game,” marvelled Pouliot. “It must have been tough for him coming in but he did awesome. Most of that win was because of Alex.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSOGame recapHighlights of the gameNumbers GameVIDEO: Alex Auld Unmasked