Saving Christmas

Saturday, 21.12.2013 / 11:00 PM canadiens.com

NASHVILLE – David Desharnais helped send the Habs into the holiday break with a little extra Christmas spirit.

After failing to score a first period goal in the past eight games, it was no secret the Canadiens were coming into Bridgestone Arena focused on getting a good start against the Predators. It took P.K. Subban less than 10 minutes to snap that dubious streak by firing a point shot past Marek Mazanec in the opening frame, and the floodgates were sent swinging open from there. With three goals in a 3:07 stretch in the first period off the sticks of Subban, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, the Habs made sure to score early and often in the opening 20 minutes.

“We wanted to leave here with a win; we needed this one,” admitted head coach Michel Therrien, whose team is now 11-2-1 when leading at the first intermission this year. “We came out strong and executed our game plan perfectly in the first period. We had the start we were looking for. We worked on things yesterday and we applied them when we started the game and we got results.”

Despite letting the momentum dip slightly in the second and eventually needing overtime to decide a winner, Desharnais came through with another clutch performance in sudden death to help make early Christmas wishes come true a little early for Canadiens fans.

“I had an opening there and took a shot,” shrugged Desharnais, who rifled his second game-winning goal of the season over the shoulder of Carter Hutton, who replaced Mazanec in the first period. “I like playing in situations like overtime and shootouts. I like to be able to make the difference.

“It was a big win for us,” added the shifty pivot, who now has 14 points in his last 17 games. “We had a great start and came out leading 3-0 in the first. We let it slip away a little bit and weren’t great in the second or the third but we found a way to win and that’s the important thing.”

With a six-day break in the schedule before the Habs head to Tampa for their next game, the team will head into holiday mode on a high note, but they won’t be getting too comfortable during their well-deserved time away from the rink.

“You want to go into the break with a little bit of momentum,” shared Pacioretty, who scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season on Saturday night, bringing the team’s record to a perfect 10-0-0 when he lights the lamp. “You wish you could have played a better game for the full 60 minutes but you take two points when they come and now we have a lot of time to rest. Everyone is dealing with the same busy schedule and everyone gets the big break right now. It’s important that we stay smart and take care of our bodies over it and come back ready to play.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.

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