Leading by example
With 101 shots already this season – and a game-high eight against the Sabres, Gionta has fired 30 more shots than the next-closet player on the team. Two of those shots paid off big-time for the captain on Saturday night.
|Highlights from the Canadiens-Sabres game|
After racking up just three points in his first 13 games this year, Gionta’s production has skyrocketed since joining forces with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. Like any good captain, his biggest concern after the final buzzer was making sure to share the spotlight with the linemates who have helped him post 12 points in his last 13 games.
“Pleky is an easy guy to play with. He works extremely hard, he supports the puck well and when we played together last year in the preseason things clicked then too,” described the Rochester, NY native. “He’s extremely strong on his skates and you see it all the time. Coming up the ice, he’ll win battles against bigger guys and he’s playing extremely well for us. He’s one of our best players, he’s consistent and he kind of goes unnoticed with the stuff he does.
“Andrei made a great play on the first one right through the defenseman’s leg and stick and I basically had an open net to put it in,” continued Gionta, who earned first-star honors on the night. “Then Pleky made a great play down low on the second one and I just kind of threw it on net.”
According to his coach, getting pucks to the net is exactly what’s made his captain successful in the first 24 games of his tenure.
“Even before he started scoring this year, Brian was the player generating the most opportunities for us,” lauded Habs head coach Jacques Martin. “He was working hard every night and he was in the right spots to score, but the puck just wasn’t going in the net. Tonight, he scored two big goals and Miller had to make some big stops on him.”
Few players work harder for their goals than Mathieu Darche, but even he has been impressed with the work ethic he’s seen from the team’s leader.
“Since the start of the season, even when he was struggling a little off the bat, he was still playing well,” explained Darche. “When you’re getting shots, it’s the law of averages, it’s going to go in eventually. We hopped on his back tonight and he carried us to the win.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Postgame comments: Martin | Price | Gionta | Spacek
The Numbers Game - Nov. 27, 2010
Canadiens 3, Sabres 1