The Canadiens hit the ice Saturday night with the singular goal of ending their preseason on a high note. Jacques Martin`s troops responded to a 4-0 blanking at the hands of the Lightning 48 hours earlier with their best performance of the preseason, routing Tampa 5-1 in their rematch.
“Last game I think was a bit of a blow to our pride,” said Mathieu Darche who potted his first goal of the preseason Saturday night. “We wanted to have a good performance and we did, from the first minute of the game to the last.”
“Since I’ve been here this is the closest I’ve seen this team,” expressed P.K. Subban from his adjacent stall. “We’re a tight group and we all hold each other accountable, from the young guys all the way to the veterans. I really like the look of our team in terms of how we feel about each other and the kind of hockey we can play.”
Watching Saturday night’s tilt before 15, 077 fans at Quebec’s Colisée Pepsi, it was clear that the team had found its flow. Not only was their cohesion present on the scoreboard, where eight different Habs picked up points, but also in their willingness to drop the gloves to protect a teammate – a fact Josh Gorges demonstrated, going toe-to-toe with Ryan Malone after a questionable hit on Chris Camopli.
“I don’t think Gorges gets enough credit for the way he plays. He’s really a team guy – Malone is a big boy and so for Gorgie to step in there like that shows a lot of courage and that’s why he has a letter on his jersey,” continued Subban referring to the “A” stitched to No. 26’s jersey.
Subban wasn`t the only one to appreciate Gorges efforts as chants for the defenseman rang out from around the Colisée Pepsi as he skated to the penalty box following his bout.
“People say we don’t have any tough guys on our team, but tonight I think we proved that we are tough as a team,” added Darche. “Hal Gill jumped in to help P.K., Josh took on Malone – guys are stepping out of their comfort zone for the sake of the group. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but there’s really an all-for-one, one-for-all mentality with us. We’re all proud of Josh and Hal right now, and this is how we want to play all year.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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