RALEIGH – David Desharnais’ New Year’s resolutions seem to have paid off.
Entering Saturday’s game riding a two-game point streak with one goal and two assists in that span, Desharnais padded his numbers in Carolina with a pair of big goals. Opening the scoring for the Habs in the second period before adding the insurance marker in the third, the 27-year-old center has now racked up 14 points in 16 games since 2014 kicked off on January 1.
“Davey is a big part of our team and he’s a quiet leader on the team, there’s no question about that,” shared Carey Price, who had 31 saves in his final game before heading off to Sochi for the Olympics. “He definitely stepped up and took charge tonight.”
Desharnais is more likely to be found dishing out perfect feeds on a shift-by-shift basis than depositing them in the back of the net, but when longtime triggerman Max Pacioretty left after his sixth shift of the night after driving the net and going hard into the post, he managed to break out of his niche as a set-up artist to pot his 10th and 11th goals of the season. The Laurier-Station, QC native now sits just five goals shy of the career-high 16 he scored in 81 games in 2010-11.
“I’ve said from Day 1 that Davey has the best attitude and he comes to work and is a professional,” stressed Pacioretty, who was suffering from back spasms when he went down but is feeling better and will travel to Sochi to represent Team USA. “He saw an opportunity when I went down and he was able to step up and really helped the team win.”
Despite spending the majority of the game in the clinic with the team’s medical staff, Pacioretty was able to catch his trusty pivot in action for the final 54 minutes of Saturday’s game. While his 26 goals so far this season have come in no small part thanks to Desharnais’ selflessness with the puck, the bruising winger wouldn’t mind seeing his centerman pull the trigger a little more often down the stretch.
“I saw his first goal. He’s got to keep shooting like that even when I come back,” mentioned Pacioretty with a laugh.
Getting a taste of his own medicine on his first goal of the night, Desharnais was on the receiving end of a tape-to-tape pass from Rene Bourque, who stepped in to replace Pacioretty on the left wing to complete a perfect give-and-go.
“Max is a big part of our line and he’s always shooting the puck and doing a lot of things. When he’s not there, somebody’s got to do it,” explained Desharnais, who became the seventh Hab to hit double digits in goals in 2013-14 with his first two-goal night of the campaign. “I got set up pretty well and I was just thinking ‘shoot’ a little bit more. Bourque plays a similar style and he throws a lot of pucks on net. He made a great pass to me and things just clicked.”
Having rediscovered his groove in December and carried that momentum with him into February, Desharnais might be one of the few players around the league who would prefer to keep playing in lieu of taking the next two weeks off. About to take advantage of some well-deserved relaxation time on the beach, he’s planning to return from the break exactly the way he left – except slightly more tanned.
“We wanted to be in a good position heading into the break and with the win tonight, we’re in a good spot,” he underlined. “It was a solid team effort and now we can enjoy our vacations with clear minds.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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