Three peas in a pod
After combining for six points in the Canadiens’ 4-0 win over the Florida Panthers, Travis Moen Lars Eller and Andrei Kostitsyn were understandably excited to hit the ice on Friday morning to pick up right where they left off. Since joining forces with Eller and Moen, Kostitsyn has been on fire, carrying a five-game, seven-point streak with him into Saturday night’s game.
“Andrei is playing really well and putting some points up. He’s been a big reason why we’ve been getting the points that we have and you can see that our line is starting to jell,” explained Moen, who had two assists against the Panthers. “We’re getting some bounces, too, which never hurts.”
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One of those bounces led to Eller’s fifth goal of the campaign on Thursday night. Since being moved between the bruising wingers in mid-February, the rookie center has racked up five of his 13 points so far this year.
“Sometimes you just find that instant chemistry with your linemates and we seem to have that. We’ve been working well as a line, but most importantly the team has been working well as a whole,” underlined Eller. “I think our line has a little bit of everything. Andrei’s a shooter, I’m a little bit more of a passer and Travis does a little bit of it all – skating and using his body to create room for us. But the biggest thing is that all three of us work hard.”
Despite the offensive clinic the trio has been putting on in the past few games, it’s his line’s work at the other end of the ice that Moen is focused on.
“Priority number one for us is we don’t want to get scored on when we’re out there,” he confirmed following his plus-2 performance in South Florida. “We’re all big guys and Larry and Kush are such skilled guys that when they get a chance, they’re going to put the puck in the net. Every line’s first priority is to take care of our end and good things come from that. We go out there and do the little things and we’ve been getting rewarded with a few goals for that lately.”
Moen speaks from experience. Having played on his share of dynamic lines, most notably the shutdown trio with Samuel Pahlsson, and Rob Niedermayer that led the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup, the seven-year NHL veteran has a theory on why his new line has been working so well.
“We’re pretty similar, I think, but we compliment each other well. I like chipping the puck up the boards and we support each other all over the ice so there’s always someone there to grab the puck and go with it,” he explained. “Kush, Larry and I all like to drive the net and use our bodies to create space. I don’t know why it’s clicking, but hopefully it continues the way it’s been going for us. We’re having a lot of fun out there.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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