DALLAS – If P.K. Subban was looking to catch Steve Yzerman’s eye, he did so in spectacular fashion on Thursday night in the Lone Star State.
Only five days away from learning the identity of the 25 players who will represent Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the 24-year-old star rearguard factored in on four of the Canadiens’ six goals in their 6-4 win over the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center, helping the bleu-blanc-rouge start 2014 off with a bang while snapping the Stars' seven-game point streak in the process.
“Tonight, we really saw how much talent he has. He’s a hockey player. When he’s on his game, he’s pretty incredible,” praised David Desharnais, who was one of several recipients of feeds from Subban that led to goals on Thursday night, with Desharnais lighting the lamp for a fifth time this year early on in the second period on Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen.
The reigning Norris Trophy winner registered one goal and three assists against Lindy Ruff’s squad, recording his second career four-point game and reaching the 30-point mark for a fourth straight year. He also logged a team-leading 23:53 of ice time, finished with a plus-3 differential and led the Habs with six hits.
“P.K. probably played his best game of the season, not only offensively, but defensively, too. I really liked the work he and Francis Bouillon did in our zone,” offered head coach Michel Therrien, whose contingent heads back to Montreal with a 2-1-1 record on the four-game road swing, and now sits fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with 52 points on the year. “He made good decisions with the puck and that’s important. That’s what we ask of him, to make good decisions. He took the space out there on the ice that the Stars gave him and he didn’t try to force anything.”
In the aftermath of the Canadiens’ 24th victory of the season, Subban was adamant that the win in Dallas was a true team triumph, with contributions coming from multiple sources.
“We had some guys who made some really good little plays out there that might not make the highlights, but open up that open ice and give other guys the opportunity to make good plays. I thought that that line of Pacioretty, Desharnais and Gallagher played outstanding today,” cited Subban, referencing the trio that generated a combined eight points on the night.
“They did some great things. They moved the puck. They moved themselves. They battled into open ice and they found each other out there,” continued Subban, who also saw Pacioretty register a four-point night with two goals and two assists. “We knew how important this win was for us. We wanted to get it, but even when we got behind the eight-ball early, we still battled and worked hard for each other. It’s a great example of unselfish play. I think that’s important at this time of the season. For our team to be successful, we have to play like that every night.”
Coming off a tough loss on New Year’s Eve in Carolina, the Toronto native insists the manner in which the Canadiens earned the victory, staving off the Stars after they fought valiantly to overcome a 4-2 deficit in the third period, was the ideal way to close out a tough stretch of six straight games away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre.
“When you can get points like this on this type of road trip, it could pay off down the road. We know these types of road trips aren’t easy for anybody,” offered Subban, who leads the Canadiens with 26 assists and 33 points in 42 games this season which ranks him third in the league among defensemen in both offensive categories. “We’re happy that we salvaged as many points as we could have. I thought with our performance today, we have a better taste in our mouth going back to Montreal. I’m just happy that we got the win for our team.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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