|Maxim Lapierre flexed some playmaking muscle against the Blackhawks.
MONTREAL – On a night when the history between the Canadiens and Blackhawks was honored, it was the Habs’ future that sealed a 4-3 overtime win over Chicago.
With the longtime rivals knotted 3-3 and a shootout looming, buddies Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre teamed up to dash the Hawks' hopes of escaping with the victory.
Hardly famous for his end-to-end rushes, the gritty Lapierre accepted a neat outlet pass from Mark Streit before weaving his way into the Blackhawks zone and setting up Latendresse for a wide open net.
“I know I’m not known for those kinds of plays, but I’ve set up goals like that in the AHL, just not in the NHL,” shrugged Lapierre. “[Chicago’s] defense gave me room and I took it. I saw Guillaume streaking in there and he was wide open, so that made it easy. I’m just glad he drove it home and we got this win before leaving on this long road trip.”
According to the hero of the night, the opportunity for him and Lapierre to be on the ice at the same time in overtime was a long time coming. Needless to say, Latendresse was glad he and his pal took full advantage of their OT debut as a tag team.
“It’s happened a few times that we almost ended up on the ice together in overtime, but something always happened to mess it up,” said Latendresse, who also set up Saku Koivu’s goal on his way to a two-point night. “I have to admit, my winning goal was a bit of a blur. Let’s just say that Max and I and aren’t exactly known as playmakers, we’re probably the worst guys in that department! But we had our chance tonight and we made it count.”
Hunches are a big part of coaching and Guy Carbonneau went with his gut, as he continues to gain confidence behind the Habs’ bench.
“There are certain nights when you just have a feeling and that was the case with Maxim and Guillaume,” said Carbonneau after outwitting Blackhawks coach and former teammate Denis Savard. “Guillaume had a bunch of chances all night long and Max has really been playing well since his call-up from Hamilton.”
While not making the team out of training camp was a bitter pill for Lapierre to swallow, he made the most of the 19 games he played with the Bulldogs until his Habs call-up in early December.
“For sure it’s a blow to your ego, but I came back hungrier when I was called back up,” explained Lapierre. “It gave me a chance to get more ice time and work on my game. It was tough at first, but it definitely helped me and I’m a better player for it today.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com