Down to the wire
BUFFALO – David Desharnais’ clutch performance on Monday provided the perfect example for how the Canadiens intend on closing out the season.
With the team currently sitting 11 points out of a playoff berth at 15th in the conference, there has been some talk from fans and the media about throwing in the towel in the hopes of winning the draft lottery this spring. The one place those discussions haven’t been going on is inside the Habs dressing room.
“There’s no quitting on this team,” stressed Peter Budaj, who kicked aside 33 of the 36 shots he faced in his 11th start of the season. “There’s lots of pride and lots of commitment to the team, to the logo to the organization and to the fans. We worked really hard. I think this Western swing was pretty good. It wasn’t flawless but we got some big points against some good teams.”
The Canadiens have traveled 8,076 km in the past eight days, changing time zones three times while also losing an hour to daylight savings. That didn’t stop them from fighting for points until the dying seconds of the four-game trek.
“It’s not easy but you have to find a way to push through it. We battled right to the end but we didn’t play a great game,” admitted Desharnais, who assisted on Erik Cole’s opening goal before banging home the game-tying marker with 4.5 seconds left in regulation. “Five points out of eight is pretty good but I think it’s more important that we keep getting better and we weren’t as good tonight as we were in the last two games.”
After missing his first game of the season on Saturday night, it was no surprise to see Desharnais bounce back to provide exactly the spark his team needed. Since being named head coach in December, Randy Cunneyworth hasn’t just leaned on the line of Cole-Desharnais-Max Pacioretty line to create most of his team’s offense this season; he’s also been using them as role models for the rest of the group.
“To see us compete at the end and not give up says a lot about the guys that were on the ice working so hard for it,” confirmed Cunneyworth of his sharp-shooting trio. “Everybody is working hard to emulate what they do. Until we get that, we’ll keep pushing. You see the results because they’re able to put the puck to the net and get it in the paint every opportunity they can and they get rewarded for it. If we get other lines doing that, they’ll get rewarded as well.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.