MONTREAL – Jaroslav Halak stole the show – and a big two points – at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
With Halak in town for the first time since being traded to St. Louis in June 2010, the focus on Tuesday night’s tilt outside the Habs dressing room was on the Slovak’s return to la Belle Province. After stopping all 19 Canadiens shots fired his way, Halak finished his night by earning his second shutout of the campaign and an ovation from the Bell Centre faithful.
“With the crowd, it’s my third year here so you kind of learn what to expect from them,” described Michael Cammalleri of the reception Halak received after being announced as the game’s first star. “It’s an emotional crowd and they appreciate performance and Jaro had such a great experience playing here. For him to come back and get the shutout, I mean, undoubtedly he has an affinity for the crowd and it’s a mutual feeling.”
Not that Cammalleri was happy to see his former netminder walk away with a 3-0 whitewash.
“It’s still our job to make it harder on opposing teams and I’m sure if you asked them honestly they would say they weren’t challenged as much as they need to be,” countered the 29-year-old winger. “For us to be a good team and a winning team, we have to make it much harder on the opposing team defensively and their goalie as well.”
Despite seeing his team held scoreless for the forth time this season, Randy Cunneyworth liked the level of compete he got from his troops on Tuesday night. He just would’ve preferred to see more of it.
“At times I thought we battled awfully hard. I thought we threw a lot of pucks at the net that Halak had to make some good saves on,” described the Habs head coach of his team’s scoring opportunities spoiled by Halak, including a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Tomas Plekanec early on. “We had to do that a little more often. It wasn’t sustained enough in my mind. It was too sporadic against a good team like that and I think if we can be more consistent we’ll have a little more luck.”
Generating offense hadn’t been an issue for the Canadiens in 2012, previously combining for 10 goals in their past two games against the Jets and the Lightning. But by allowing just 19 shots and snuffing out all three Habs power plays, the Blues proved they haven’t made it to second-place in the Western Conference by accident.
“It’s a deliberate game and it’s a hard game and we didn’t match that the way we should have,” admitted Hal Gill, who blocked two shots in his 11:51 of ice time. “They come hard and they force you to make plays. You have to make them quick and you have to make them clean and if you don’t, they’re going to take advantage of it.
“I think we saw a team that works the way that we can,” he added. “We have to take a page out of their book. It’s a simple game, but it’s a hard game.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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