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Hamrlik steps up when Canadiens need him most

by Brian Compton
MONTREAL -- One night after learning that Andrei Markov was lost for the remainder of the playoffs, Roman Hamrlik played arguably his best game since joining the Montreal Canadiens in 2007.

The 36-year-old logged more ice time (23:06) than any other defenseman on the club, had two assists and was plus-4 in Montreal's 5-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Bell Centre on Thursday.

Hamrlik was sensational, alongside defense partner P.K. Subban, keeping the rugged Flyers forwards at bay for much of the night. Montreal held Philadelphia to just 26 shots on goal and only eight in the third period.

The first player taken in the 1992 Entry Draft, and the first pick in the history of the Tampa Bay Lightning, spoke with the media after the Canadiens cut the series deficit to 2-1.

Q: Is that one of the best games you've played as a member of the Montreal Canadiens?

Hamrlik: Yeah, I felt pretty good tonight. Those first two games, we didn't do things as a team. We don't have any superstars here. We need 20 guys to play hard … that's the way we're going to win hockey games, especially in the playoffs. I think we were desperate tonight. That first goal was huge. We wanted to go out and score the first goal, and that made a big difference.

Q: It seemed they allowed you guys to play your speed game tonight and you were able to establish it quickly, right?

Hamrlik: On the blue line, you don't want to give them any speed. We learned from the first two games that we spent too much time in the penalty box. They got some guys who can put the puck in the net. Tonight, I think 5-on-5 we showed that we can play pretty good hockey.

Q: How desperate did you guys feel entering this game tonight?

Hamrlik: We know we have to go out there and compete hard every period, every shift. I think everybody brought their "A" game, and that was a big difference. Jaro (Jaroslav Halak) stepped it up big time. We know we have to go in front of their goalie. Our forwards did a pretty good job of that.

Q: It was announced yesterday that Markov had surgery, and you step up with a big performance like this. Is there more pressure on you to perform now?

Hamrlik: Well, we miss him big time. Whoever plays there, we have to step it up. We just want to wish him best of luck.

Q: How much have you enjoyed showing P.K. Subban the ropes and helping him along so early in his career?

Hamrlik: I try to help him. We talk on the bench or between periods. He's a young kid and he's going to have a long future in front of him. It's nice to watch him play and to play with him. It's a good feeling.

Q: It seemed as if the Flyers were looking for you late in the game. Is that accurate?

Hamrlik: I know they showed some frustration in the last couple of minutes, but when you're losing the game, we would do the same thing. You want to show it's not going to be easy and that it's going to be a tough series. You just do what you have to do and step up for your teammates.

Q: Does that mean you're ready to fight every night?

Hamrlik: Absolutely.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL  

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