TORONTO - The gap just got a little bit smaller.
The Habs headed to Toronto with a chip on their shoulders after giving up a late third-period lead and settling for a shootout loss in Pittsburgh on Friday night. Twenty-four hours later, they'll be flying back to Montreal with a big three points packed in their carry-on bags.
"It was definitely nice to be on the other side of one of those," admitted Carey Price, who stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced on Saturday night. "We played a textbook road game. The guys played well in front of me, we got a fortunate bounce there on the first one and Darchey did a great job of screening on [Diaz]'s goal. We pretty much shut them down. We didn't give them a whole lot of opportunities."
With the win, the Canadiens managed to move into 11th in the East, just eight points out of a playoff spot. More importantly, the road win against their divisional rivals helped the Habs cut the distance between themselves and the ninth-place Leafs.
"Those are the teams we're going to have to beat to be able to catch up," added the 23-year-old netminder. "We need a lot more of that and we need to be able to do that from here on out until the end of the season. Tonight was a great first step."
Getting his first taste of the century-old Habs-Leafs rivalry since arriving in Montreal last week, Rene Bourque made the most of his first Saturday appearance on Hockey Night in Canada as a Hab.
"Every game is huge for us and it was a big weekend - we'll take as many points as we can get," offered Bourque, who scored his first goal as a member of the Canadiens in the first period. "We gave up one last night in the third but we battled back tonight and everyone played well and everyone did their part."
The newly-acquired sniper chipped in by getting the visitors on the board in the first period, swatting home his first goal as a Hab in an impressive display of hand-eye coordination.
"I just wanted to stop in front," shrugged Bourque of his 14th goal of the season. "I saw right away that it was going to bounce back in front [off the glass]. I kind of got lucky there and just got my stick on it."
According to his coach, there was a little more to the play - and the win - than just an extra dash of luck on the Canadiens' side on Saturday night.
"You make your own bounces," stressed Randy Cunneyworth, whose team blocked 19 shots and threw 31 hits in the outing. "There was more desperation in our play and in our work and in our [attention to] detail and that's the reward you get."
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
Time to rally