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Work hard, play harder

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- The second of back-to-back games against the Senators Saturday night was a chance for the Canadiens to try out newcomers and mix-and-match interesting prospects with experienced players.

Game highlights
No stranger to donning the bleu-blanc-rouge in the preseason, Aaron Palushaj showed what he was capable of in assisting Michael Cammalleri on his two goals against the Sens. The right winger knew all too well how important the game was as Jacques Martin will make his first set of preseason cuts in the days to come.

“Tonight was the most important game of training camp; actually it was the most important game of my life,” confessed the 22-year-old. “It was the most important game of training camp, and right now is the most crucial part of my career.”

Thankfully for him, this was his best performance yet in a Habs uniform.

“I think this was my best game. I had my feet moving and I felt comfortable out there. I thought I was handling the puck pretty well,” said the 5-foot-11 winger.  “I was playing with Cammy, and that helped make things easier.”

It wasn’t the first time the young Livonia, MI native has shared ice time with the seasoned veteran.

“I played with Cammy last preseason so we already had a little bit of chemistry. We had the [University of] Michigan connection going with Mitera, myself and Cammy,” laughed Palushaj who had a total of 57 points with the Hamilton Bulldogs last season. “Cammalleri has been sort of a mentor to me.”

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin was impressed with the young prospect.

“It was his best performance since the beginning of camp. He used his assets and he used his speed tonight,” shared Martin. “He showed his ability to move the puck.”

Though the coach’s words were positive, Palushaj knows he still has to play hard to win a spot on the Canadiens' opening roster.

“Cuts are in the back of my mind but I’m just going to go out there and play hard,” expressed Palushaj. “I have no control over what the future holds so I’ll go out and play my game and then whatever happens, happens.”

Palushaj will be playing again on Sunday as the Canadiens face the Boston Bruins for the first time since they last met in the playoffs. It will be his fourth appearance in five games.

Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for

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