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Proof of character

The Canadiens are never out when they're down

by Joanie Godin, translated by Matt Cudzinowski @canadiensmtl /

MONTREAL - On Saturday night, the Canadiens posted another come-from-behind win, securing a 3-2 overtime victory over the Red Wings in Detroit.

Comeback wins have been a common occurrence in Montreal this year. Eleven of the Habs' 47 wins during the 2016-17 campaign have come after trailing through two periods. They've also gone on to earn a point in four overtime losses under similar circumstances.

Those 11 wins are the most the Canadiens have posted when down after two since the NHL began keeping stats on the category in 1987-88. This season, the Habs topped their previous high of 10, set during the 2006-07 campaign.

Despite missing eight regulars during the Canadiens' final game of the year - and the last game for Montreal at Joe Louis Arena - the Habs managed to rally back to win again, although they gave themselves slightly more than a 20-minute cushion for their comeback in Detroit. Down 2-1 to their hosts with 1:30 to go in the second frame, the Habs tied things up with a clutch goal by rookie Artturi Lehkonen. Alex Galchenyuk put the finishing touches on the victory with his fifth overtime marker of the season, tying an NHL record for most OT winners in a campaign since the five-minute overtime format was introduced in 1983-84. He's in good company in that category, sharing top spot with Steven Stamkos (2011-12) and Jonathan Toews (2015-16).

Video: MTL@DET: Galchenyuk scorches one-timer for OT win

Stats like that suggest one thing: the Canadiens never give up.

"We obviously want to be ahead after two periods - and we have to focus on doing that - but I think it shows our desire to battle and the character that we have in this dressing room," said defenseman Jeff Petry.

"No matter the circumstances, we're going to fight until the end. The best example of that is our game in Edmonton [on March 12]. We played well the whole game without being able to score, but we didn't stop working and we found a way to win. That demonstrates character," added Petry.

That night in Edmonton, Claude Julien's troops went up against a hot goaltender in Cam Talbot and the Oilers got on the board first. They were on the verge of registering a shutout, but the momentum shifted in the Canadiens' favor when they scored two goals in quick succession, before adding two more empty-netters, leaving Alberta with another win after being behind following the middle frame.

Video: Condensed Game: Canadiens @ Oilers

Brendan Gallagher summed it up rather well: "A game is 60 minutes long, and regardless of what happens, you have to continue to battle."

The Canadiens' bench boss is also pleased to see his players fighting for wins, especially when they find themselves in situations they'd rather avoid.

"Even when teams are in tough spots, they can find ways to get back in games. We keep our cool, even in the third period. We stay focused on the work we have to do. Eventually, something will come of it," said Julien.

Obviously, the Canadiens would prefer to stay clear of being forced to play come-from-behind hockey whenever possible, especially in the postseason.

"We have character, but at the same time, you have to find a way to score the first goal. It might happen to us a little bit less often. We're a team that plays really well defensively, so we're focusing on that. When we have chances on offense, we have to capitalize on them. We have a character group, and coming back after two periods like that is important with the playoffs on the horizon," said Phillip Danault, who potted three game-winning goals this season.

Like Danault, Petry is well aware that results like that will be crucial heading into their first round series against the Rangers.

"In the playoffs, games tighten up, so we can use those experiences to our advantage in terms of what we've managed to do [when we're down]. We know that regardless of the circumstances, we're capable of coming back," concluded Petry.

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