By zipping a wrister past Cam Ward in the second period, Plekanec not only put the Canadiens up 3-2, he also sniped his way into some impressive company in the Habs’ record book.
With now five-straight 20-goal seasons under his belt, Plekanec is only the fifth centerman in franchise history to manage that feat. The Czech speedster now joins Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Pete Mahovlich and Jacques Lemaire in that exclusive group.
At five and counting, Plekanec still has a long way to go to match the club record of 12-consecutive 20-goal seasons held by Lemaire who did from 1967-68 through his retirement in 1978-79. Next up is Beliveau at seven seasons, followed by Richard and Mahovlich with six.
“My job isn’t to score goals, it’s to play a strong two-way game, but if I can chip in with some goals sometimes it’s always good,” said Plekanec.
There’s chipping in and then there’s becoming the first player since Stephane Richer two decades ago to score 20 goals in five straight seasons for the Habs.
“That’s nice to hear, but let’s just say that I’ve been lucky to have some pretty good linemates over the years,” admitted the 27-year-old. “They all made it easier on me and made a lot of nice plays so it’s thanks to them, too.”
His linemate these days can certainly relate. Now in his second campaign as the triggerman on Plekanec’s left side, Michael Cammalleri has been one of the primary benefactors of his centerman’s generosity. The sight of Plekanec unsuccessfully trying to slide a pass to Cammalleri instead of scoring into an empty Carolina net with under a minute to play came as no shock to the Habs sniper.
“Pleky probably felt he owed me one. After all, he did almost break my stick with a pass on a chance I had earlier in the game. It’s a good thing he scored on that same shift in the second period because I probably would’ve fought him on the bench,” laughed Cammalleri, who is thrilled to be back alongside Plekanec after being out with a shoulder injury. “We feel really good right now and we’re excited to be back playing together. I’m sure he’s already sick of me, but we’re talking about a bunch of plays on the bench and that makes the game fun.”
Fun or not, the question becomes: Will Pleky dare attempt that same pass to Cammalleri the next time he’s bearing down on an empty net late in regulation?
“Not a chance,” revealed Plekanec. “Next time I’m shooting!”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
Postgame comments: Martin | Cammalleri | Gionta | Sopel | Plekanec
The Numbers Game - Feb. 26, 2011
Sopel joins Habs