WINNIPEG – Thursday’s clash between two desperate teams had everything you could want from a game – especially if you’re a Habs fan.
The question heading into Thursday night’s matchup between the Canadiens and the Jets at the MTS Centre was: which team would hit the ice hungrier for the win? After a hard-fought battle between the two Canadian clubs, it was ultimately the Habs who walked away with the two points, secured home ice advantage for the playoffs and injected their squad with a much needed dose of confidence heading into Toronto for their final game of the season.
“We had an excellent work ethic tonight. I thought our defense played really well and the forwards were coming back to help the D, making their job easier and because of that, making my job easier, too,” shared Carey Price, following a 23-save performance that helped the Habs sweep their season series against the Jets in Winnipeg. “Playing this style of hockey is what’s brought us success all season long. Going up against a desperate team like we were tonight, this was the game we needed to go out there and play as a team to get us all back onto the right track.”
Easily one of Montreal’s best players in Thursday’s tilt, Price came up huge for the Habs on more than one occasion, including a show-stopping breakaway save against Blake Wheeler that saw him catch just enough of the puck to make the initial stop with his glove before acrobatically making sure it stayed on the right side of the line.
“I caught just enough of the puck,” explained Price. “I thought for a second that it had crossed the goal line, but I was lucky enough to get it just before its momentum took it over the line and into the net.”
Another clear-cut highlight in Thursday night’s matchup was defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who kicked off his second stint with the Habs in style. After being handed the mandate to impose himself on the ice with a physical game, the 20-year-old finished the night with a game-high seven hits, while also showing great patience to help set up a play that resulted in the tying goal for the Habs in the third period.
“He played a great game for us. Speaking with him this morning, I told him that this was a huge opportunity for him tonight,” mentioned head coach Michel Therrien, after his team’s 4-2 win over the Jets. “He wasn’t just here to develop like he was the first time we brought him up. This time, the message was different. We asked him to seize the occasion and he absolutely went out there and did that in this game.”
Enjoying another two-point game picking up his 26th and 27th assists of the season, P.K. Subban was all about praising his teammate and friend following a match that saw the Habs come together at exactly the right time.
“Personally, I’m just glad we were able to put together 60 minutes tonight for our goaltender. He’s stood on his head all year for us and I think it’s safe to say that we pretty much left him out to dry over the past five games,” shared the potential Norris Trophy candidate, who assisted on the Habs’ go-ahead goal. “He played unbelievable tonight. I don’t think we helped him out as much as we would have liked, but he did the job and made some big saves when he had to and it was great to be able to give him a 60 minute effort.
“We still have one game left against the Toronto Maple Leafs now,” he added, already looking ahead to Saturday night’s highly-anticipated season finale. “Based on what happened the last game, we want to make sure we come out and have a strong start.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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