MONTREAL – Moving a step closer to their goal, the Canadiens made a statement Wednesday night against the Red Wings.
When the Red Wings rode their seven-game win streak into Montreal as the top team in the NHL it certainly seemed the Habs had a mountain to climb if they hoped to string together a second consecutive win. Three periods later and the Canadiens skated off the ice with a 7-2 victory, two much-needed points, and something to build on heading into the All-Star break.
“Against a team like this, you know right away that if you don’t play your best you’re probably going to be shelled. It scares you a bit into really focusing and getting mentally prepared,” explained Price of his team’s ability to rise to the occasion against the NHL’s elite, with the Canadiens having also routed the Rangers 4-1 less than two weeks ago. While the Habs have seen their share of leads slip away in 2011-12, the difference Wednesday night was that the team never took their foot of the gas. Instead, they fought tooth and nail for every goal scored and every puck battle won for the full 60 minutes of play.
“After the first period we had a four goal lead, but all they would have had to do was come back, pump in two and it would have been a two goal game right there,” continued Price. “Instead, we came back with the attitude that we wanted to score the next one – we did, and we continued to stay on top of them. We had our guys doing all the right things, just putting puck towards the net and having guys there. It’s pretty much how we scored all our goals.”
On a night where the Canadiens were getting production from all over their lineup, including a first-ever marker as a Hab from Alexei Emelin, it was once again the line of Cole, Desharnais and Pacioretty that stole the show. Wrapping up his night with a three point, plus-3 performance, Erik Cole had nothing but praise for a line creating some of the team’s best on ice chemistry.
“We’re constantly pushing each other and talking to each other on the bench about where we want pucks, what we’re planning on doing with the next opportunity or situation – stuff like that,” dropped Cole on his line that combined for eight points on the night and four of the Habs’ seven goals. “I know I’ve said it before, but Davy’s been great and he’s always doing such a great job in his puck battles and one-on-one battles. He the kind of player that’s always freeing up loose pucks, making great passes in tight areas and it makes it easy for me and Patches to skate hard up and down the wings and try and make some space.”
Nabbing first star honors with two goals and an assist over 14:50 of ice time, David Desharnais played the role of catalyst again against the Red Wings, helping set a pace for the rest of the team that never let up over the course of the match.
“We really made sure for the rest of the game not to get cute. We concentrated on doing what we were doing right in the first period. All we wanted was to get that next goal. Sometimes when it’s four nothing, it’s easy to just try and sit back on that lead, but we managed to get the fifth and then the sixth and that was really the key for us,” pointed out 25-year-old Desharnais who was happy to head into the All-Star break on a high note.
“This was great to happen now. We have 30 games left, we can relax and enjoy our break now knowing we played a good game and then come back ready for the rest of the season."
Justin Fragapane is writer for canadiens.com