A century in the making
|Michael Ryder kicked off the Canadiens' historic comeback with a pair of goals to help lead the Habs to their 6-5 shootout win.|
Things looked grim after 25 minutes with the Habs down 5-0, but fans who hung in there were treated to the most monumental comeback in club history.
“The Canadiens have been around for almost 100 years and it’s never happened before,” shrugged head coach Guy Carbonneau. “And I think they had some pretty good teams.”
“The guys deserve all the credit here tonight. They never gave up and kept on fighting, just like they have all season,” said Carbonneau. “To be honest, last season this team probably packs it in after falling behind like that. This just shows what kind of character we have in this dressing room.”
That will to win, it seems, also spills over to the fans in the stands, as the Bell Centre faithful did not let up one bit with the home team in a deep hole.
“The atmosphere was amazing and our fans have truly become a seventh player for us,” admitted Carbonneau. “Winning at home was tough for us earlier in the year because we were trying to do too much. But we’ve gotten past that and the crowd is helping us win now.”
The deafening crowd noise wasn’t lost on Alex Kovalev, who sent the Bell Centre into a frenzy with the tying goal late in the third period to force overtime and the eventual shootout.
“What else can you say about these fans?” asked Kovalev, who notched his 28th and 29th goals of the season. “They’ve always been good to me no matter what and tonight was just incredible. Hearing all that cheering energizes me and it makes want to give even more back to the fans.”
With no shortage of heroes on a crazy night at the corner of de la Montagne and de la Gauchetiere, Kovalev felt the Canadiens had one player in particular to thank for their thrilling comeback.
“[Michael] Ryder can score goals, we all know that. It’s a good thing he did tonight, because without him we’re not talking about this huge comeback win,” said Kovalev of the struggling winger who tallied two goals and one assist. “It hasn’t been easy for him all season long and I couldn’t be happier for Michael.”
When told about Kovalev handing him most of the credit for the biggest comeback in team history, Ryder wouldn’t hear of it.
“Sure, this feels awesome considering how my season has gone so far, but this was a team effort all the way,” said Ryder. “What we did here tonight comes down to pride, pure and simple. We weren’t about to back down.
“The crowd was electric, too. They stayed behind us and helped turn the game around,” added Ryder. “These fans can do that and we saw it here tonight.”
Still in shock following the Habs’ unlikely comeback, Mike Komisarek couldn’t stop smiling and shaking his head in disbelief.
“Bob [Gainey] often told us that a good team always finds the recipe to win. It looks like tonight the recipe was falling behind 5-0,” laughed Komisarek. “All I know is, the noise here tonight was absolutely ridiculous. My ears are still ringing.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com