MONTREAL – The Canadiens extended their win streak to three games, working their way to the top of the division in the process.
The Habs team that hit the ice on Saturday night looked like a completely different group than the one that was shut out by the Leafs exactly one week ago. In addition to scoring four even-strength goals against the Flyers, the Canadiens also held Philadelphia to just 19 shots in the outing, while snuffing out all four Philly power play opportunities on the night. A far cry from the team that lost 6-0 to their longtime rivals on home ice a week ago.
“Sometimes that kind of stuff happens. The way we handled that game [against Toronto], with Colsey [Erik Cole] getting the guys together, guys talking and coming back to work the right way was important,” confirmed Josh Gorges of the bounce back effort that has resulted in the team collecting six points this week, vaulting them to second place in the Eastern Conference. “You can lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself and point fingers, but instead of doing that we looked in the mirror, took it upon ourselves to be accountable and got better.”
Despite coming off back-to-back wins in the Sunshine State, Michel Therrien shuffled the deck heading into Saturday’s game, juggling his lines in the hopes of sparking some offense from last year’s leading scorers. It took just 8:53 for his hunch to pay dividends, with Brendan Gallagher slipping a perfect feed from David Desharnais past Brian Boucher on their third shift together.
“I really liked the line with Gallagher, Desharnais and [Max] Pacioretty,” mentioned Therrien. “They worked hard, they executed and they were first on the puck. Look at a guy like Gallagher and his work ethic is outstanding. His strength is that he makes other guys work to match him. We brought him in with Desharnais and Pacioretty and he seemed to light up the line. They have good chemistry, but when I talk about chemistry, it’s just as much about work ethic. When you move your feet and you compete, good things happen.”
That wasn’t the only change the Canadiens made to the lineup against the Flyers. With Carey Price watching from home suffering from the flu, Peter Budaj stepped in and kicked aside 18 shots to register his first career victory against the Flyers while improving his season record to 1-1-1.
“It feels great. Our team played a great defensive game and helped me out a lot,” praised Budaj. “I didn’t have much work – I think until the last seven minutes of the game they only had seven shots on net. Our team played great; great penalty killing, a lot of blocked shots and it was a great team effort.
“We have a great bunch of guys inside this dressing room,” he added, after hearing his teammates had vowed to do everything in their power to get him a win after letting a 4-2 lead slip away in his last start. “We’re really sticking together and that’s always one of the most important things. We battle for each other; I battled tonight for them and they battled for me.”
Working as a team and supporting one another has been a theme of the 2012-13 Canadiens since training camp opened. About to embark on a stretch of six games in 11 nights, Therrien is looking forward to even more team wins to close out the month.
“It’s been a big week for us. It was important for us to rebound. We worked hard, we were focused and we’ve gotten better with every game,” stressed the Habs head coach. “We competed hard. This game is pretty simple; when you work hard, most of the time, you’ll have success.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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