MONTREAL – The Canadiens’ fourth line added some extra energy – and timely offense – to the lineup on Saturday night.
Playing a seventh game in 11 nights, the Habs needed a little jumpstart to get going after a slow first period against the trap-happy Sabres. Going straight to the source, Michel Therrien called on his fourth line of Brandon Prust, Ryan White and Travis Moen to give the Canadiens just the spark the team needed to set the red light ablaze.
“I didn’t like the intensity in the first period and I didn’t think we had the right attitude to start the game. We talked about it after the first period and decided to start with those guys and they got us a big goal,” confirmed the Habs bench boss of Prust’s quick release from the slot to get the Habs on the board 19 seconds into the second frame. “They were a big reason we won the game. They created some scoring chances with their intensity. They spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. That’s leadership to me. Those guys were leaders tonight.”
With an assist of his own and a great change to help Tomas Plekanec pot his 11th of the campaign, one of the biggest catalysts behind the team’s energy surge on Saturday night was the well-rested White. After being slotted in and out of the lineup at various points in the last two weeks, the Brandon, MB native had suited up for just four of the Canadiens’ last seven games and was ready to earn every second of his 13:51 workload.
“I’ve been pretty fresh the last few days,” he joked. “I’ve been working hard in the gym trying to make sure I’m ready to go and the guys who haven’t been playing, we’ve been pushing each other pretty hard.
“My line played well and made it easy for me. We just wanted to make the most of the opportunity tonight and I wanted to make sure I was ready to go every time I got the chance to go out there,” added White, who had one assist and finished with a plus-1 differential. “I’m chomping at the bit every time I get a chance to go in there.”
Also making the most of his ice time against the Sabres, Prust followed up his opening goal with an assist on Plekanec’s second-period marker. Tied for eighth in the NHL with six fights this season, the gritty winger debated dropping the gloves to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick – although he wasn’t the only Hab to come within a scrap of hitting the trifecta.
“Pleky? I would have been upset if he got one before me,” he joked of the Czech center, whose name has yet to appear on hockeyfights.com through 629 career games. “I used to get them all the time in Junior – that was something I was known for, actually. I was definitely thinking about going for it but then they scored to make it 3-2 and I just wanted to focus on getting the win.”
Helping the cause with a pair of multi-point nights in Prust and Moen – earning first and third-star honors, respectively, in the process – a combined plus-5 differential and eight hits between them, the fourth line did more than their part to help the team seal a fifth-straight win.
“It’s good for us to chip in. Our top guys have been carrying a heavy load lately and they’ve been doing a great job,” stressed Prust. “We want to contribute any way we can. We were happy to do it tonight and we don’t want to stop. We know we’re going to keep it simple, chip in some pucks and support each other. That’s the key to our success.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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