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Canadiens want to make statement in Winter Classic

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After the Montreal Canadiens lost for the seventh time in eight games, captain Max Pacioretty pointed to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL?Winter Classic as a chance for them to show they're better than that.

Pacioretty and the Canadiens will be heading to Gillette Stadium for the game against the Boston Bruins on New Year's Day following a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers at BB&T???Center on Tuesday.

"You know everyone is watching,"???Pacioretty said. "It's time to make a statement to the League. We're going to play against a very good team, and it's a great rivalry. Everyone around the League will be watching. It's time to make a statement and prove we're a better team than our past 12 or so games have shown."

Pacioretty and the Canadiens are looking forward to the game and the festivities, but at the same time, they're hoping they can get their season back on track after falling out of first place in the Atlantic Division.

"I look forward to winning,"???defenseman P.K. Subban said. "I don't care what type of game it is. Obviously, it's a little bit more special when it's at Gillette Stadium and there's 70,000 people there. It's a cool experience. You want to enjoy the experience, and I???think that'll be the message to everybody in the dressing room. We want to win but enjoy the experience.

"Not too many guys get to play in these types of games, especially for an Original Six team. Boston-Montreal, I don't think it gets much better than that. You're going to enjoy it, but as we get closer and closer, yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It seems like it's been a long, long time now with all the shows and the talk about it. Glad that it's finally here, and once it's over we can put it away and focus on the rest of the season."

The Winter Classic will be a homecoming of sorts for goalie Mike Condon, a native of Holliston, Mass.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after the game against the Panthers that he hadn't decided which goalie would start in the Winter Classic, but Condon said he would cherish the event whether he or Ben Scrivens gets the call.

"It's going to be a fun game regardless who's playing,"???Condon said. "It's a little bit of a homecoming for me, but it's also a big game against an archrival of the Habs. It's going to be fun, lot of emotions and can't wait for it.

"I've been to Gillettte Stadium plenty of times to watch the (New England) Patriots play. They're my favorite NFL team. So it's going to be fun to actually perform in front of that crowd if I get the chance."

Center Alex Galchenyuk said his father played in some outdoor games in Europe, adding the magnitude of those games couldn't rival the Winter Classic.

"The first time they announced it, we started thinking about it,"???Galchenyuk said. "Obviously, it's our next game. (It would be good)???to win that game and move past all the negativity and get a new fresh start to the new year, but at the same time, we can't really sit back and think, 'Oh, we need a fresh start.' We've got to find a way to win and keep rolling."

The Canadiens have won once since "EPIX Presents Road to the NHL Winter Classic"???began airing Dec. 16. Now, it's time for the game itself.

"It's a lot of fun,"?????????Pacioretty said. "We have all these cameras around every day, and it's all leading up to that. We didn't want to look past today. We would have liked to have a better game, but it's on to the Winter Classic. It's a big spotlight, and we have a lot to prove. It's time to do it."

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