MONTREAL – With a win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night, the Canadiens earned a lot more than the usual two points.
Sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference heading into Tuesday’s game, there were a few different scenarios that could have guaranteed the Habs a spot in the postseason for a fourth-straight year. Instead of going over the various permutations that would have resulted in an “x” showing up beside their name in the standings at the end of the week, the Canadiens decided to go with a simpler approach to clinching a playoff berth: win and you’re in.
“That’s definitely a confidence booster for a hockey team; we earned our way in and we didn’t just fall into the playoffs,” admitted Carey Price
, who kicked aside 42 of the 43 Blackhawks shots he faced on Tuesday night. “We can enjoy it now and then we’ll take the next two games to prepare for the real challenge. We all knew what was on the line and we all wanted to win our way into the playoffs. Our fate was in our own hands and we got the job done.”
The NHL couldn’t have scripted a more dramatic finish to the Canadiens’ final home game of the regular season. With the game on the line and Chicago captain Jonathan Toews in the box for tripping, P.K. Subban
punched his team’s ticket to the postseason with his second-career overtime-winning goal before celebrating in style with his All-Star netminder.
“I think that was the best way possible to finish that game. I don’t think a shootout would’ve even been as exciting,” revealed Price, who changed up his usual triple-low five celebration with the rookie blue-liner for the special occasion. “We were both excited and we were skating pretty fast and we both knew what was going to happen so I just put my weight into it and buried him.”
Enjoying his team’s two-game cushion heading into the last few days of the regular season, Richmond Hill native Michael Cammalleri can look forward to heading home for the final game of the season against the Leafs on Saturday night with a little less on the line than last year.
“It’s nice to get in and it’s nice to not have to worry about getting points in Toronto on the last night of the year because those are situations you just don’t want to be in, but we’re aware of the work ahead of us,” underlined the 28-year-old winger who had a goal and an assist against the Blackhawks. “It’s a good feeling to have clinched but we’ve got some big work to do. We have the hardest work of our season by far to do if we want to be playing for the next few months.”
Prepping for the playoffs is nothing new for two-time Stanley Cup champion Scott Gomez
, who has never missed the postseason in his 11-year NHL career.
“I have to thank guys like Mr. [Lou] Lamoriello, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Marty Brodeur, Claude Lemieux and all those guys for that,” replied Gomez when asked about his secret to playing deep into springtime year after year. “[Former Canadiens defenseman] Larry Robinson taught us you’re supposed to be in the playoffs and you shouldn’t just be happy to be there.
“We knew coming in tonight that we didn’t want to have to be watching hockey tomorrow,” he added. “You’re supposed to be in the playoffs, especially when you’re in a city like this but you never take it for granted. This is when the fun starts.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSO:Postgame comments: Subban
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