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The extra mile

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

WASHINGTON – The Habs aren’t focused on playing the spoiler; they’re just looking to play their best hockey down the stretch.

After a disappointing loss to the Rangers on Friday night, the Canadiens came armed with a little extra effort for their game against the Capitals.

Postgame: Max Pacioretty

Despite giving up an early two-goal lead, the Habs rallied back with exactly the kind of performance they’ve been looking for all season.

“I think we played really well,” shared Peter Budaj, who stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced in his 14th start of the season. “We played last night and the first 10 minutes were really strong from their team. We stuck with it and had a good second and third period. We outshot them and outchanced them and then in the shootout, they made some nice moves.

“It’s disappointing because I think we deserved the two points,” added the 29-year-old netminder of his team’s 11th shootout loss this year. “But it’s not about what you deserve; it’s what you end up with.”

With a goal and five shots in 18:53 of ice time, Tomas Plekanec embodied the kind of effort he and his teammates have been searching for this season. But what the Czech pivot liked most about Saturday’s game was his team’s willingness to put the lessons they’ve learned this year to good use.

“We played hard, we were skating and we put the puck deep,” explained Plekanec, who hit the 50-point benchmark for the third straight season thanks to his second-period marker. “We stuck to our plan and that’s what we wanted to do. We want to do that every night and we haven’t been able to do it. Tonight was an example that when we’re doing that, we’re successful.”

Having preached the importance of focusing on the process all season long, Randy Cunneyworth would have preferred to leave Washington with an extra point but he still appreciated the extra effort he saw throughout his lineup against the Caps.

“The guys worked hard tonight. They maybe deserved a better fate where we crawled out of the deficit we had,” offered the Habs coach. “That first goal [by Erik Cole] was a big one and it turned the game around for us.

“It was good hard work and we put more pucks to the net tonight with 41 shots,” added Cunneyworth, whose team was outshot 29-20 by the Rangers the night before. “It’s the second game in two nights, plus travel, against a very good team that’s desperate for points. It says a lot about the guys in [our room]. I liked the effort overall.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

Postgame comments: Cunneyworth | Plekanec | Budaj | Markov | Pacioretty
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