MONTREAL – The Habs got out of their four-game losing streak on Tuesday night the same way they got into it: together.
When the doors to the Canadiens dressing room slid open following Saturday’s 5-0 loss to the Capitals, every single Habs player was waiting at his stall, ready to face tough questions about what had gone wrong. Preaching accountability, work ethic and leadership, the Habs said all the right things on Saturday night and again on Monday morning, but on Tuesday, they went out and put those words into action.
“As a group, we knew what we needed to do,” confirmed Carey Price, who earned first star honors after recording his third shutout of the season in the 3-0 win over the Hurricanes. “That’s the way we planned it at the start of the night and we executed it. We talked about it enough and it was time to do it. Tonight it all came together. I think we played with a lot of confidence and it came down to us just willing the win.”
While the sky may have been falling elsewhere in Montreal following the Canadiens’ fourth consecutive loss on Saturday, the Habs headed to Brossard on Monday morning with no hint of panic in the air. Looking a lot more like the team that went 9-0-1 in late November/early December than the one that had been outscored by a 19-5 margin during the recent four-game skid, the righting of the ship came in part as a result of a decision made by the man at the helm.
“I really believe attitude is important; how you face adversity,” shared head coach Michel Therrien, whose team currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference standings following Tuesday’s win. “We decided to stay positive as a coaching staff with our players and make sure that inside our hockey team no one was panicking. We wanted to show all together that we’re confident in that group. For me, it’s always a matter of attitude. When you have the right attitude, it always helps.”
From Brandon Prust opening the scoring for a fourth time this season and Josh Gorges chipping in with an assist and seven blocked shots, to Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher finishing the night with blue paint shavings covering their skate blades from an evening spent driving the Hurricanes’ crease, every player in the Habs lineup earned a share of Tuesday’s win.
“The thing I take away from that game is that everyone was involved. It was a good team win,” described Therrien. “There were a lot of things I liked; we stuck to the game plan, we worked as a team and what was nice was to see unsung heroes like Josh Gorges and Douglas Murray out there, sacrificing for the team. They blocked a lot of shots and were making efforts to be in the shooting lanes. When you see that, and the reaction from players on the bench, it creates a great atmosphere. And of course, Carey Price was solid for us yet again.”
With far more Jekyll than Hyde performances to draw on in 2013-14, the Canadiens read from a familiar script against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, returning to the brand of hockey that saw them explode out of the gate to start the season.
“I think that’s something we did early on; blocking shots and sacrificing the body. We just got back to what we do well and what we talk about every single day and we executed our game plan,” explained Gallagher, who jammed home his 14th goal of the campaign in the first period. “When we do that, we give ourselves a chance to win. There are still a lot of areas to improve on for us, but it’s definitely a good feeling in the room right now.”
Ready to ride that feeling into Boston on Thursday, the Canadiens are looking to keep the good times rolling during the last road trip of the month.
“It was obviously something we talked about in the room before that we wanted to come out and get our confidence back and get our swagger back and play as a team and put the other games behind us,” admitted Prust. “It’s a fresh week and we were able to do that. We had fun again out there and we looked like our old selves again. The next thing to do is just keep it going.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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