Where there's a will
TAMPA – The Habs’ trademark resiliency was on display again in Tampa as they shocked the Lightning with a third period comeback.
Good teams find a way to win games and that’s exactly what the Canadiens did on Saturday night, storming back with a three-goal third period against the Lightning to stun the hometown team and bank another big two points to remain first in the Eastern Conference. After banging home the game-winning marker on a goalmouth scramble – the Habs' second hard-fought goal of the night – Brendan Gallagher shed some light on his team’s ability to bounce back when it counts.
“Right now our group is playing with a lot of confidence and we know we’re capable of giving ourselves a chance to come back from a couple of goals down. But with that said, you have to show up ready to play the same way every night,” shared the 20-year-old, underlining the mood in the room leading up to the final frame. “We were pretty positive and talked about what we had to do to get back into it. We knew we made some mistakes earlier on to get caught behind, but to have the confidence to stay positive in that type of situation and know you can come back is huge.”
|Brendan Gallagher's game-winning third period goal.|
If the Canadiens find themselves playing with that kind of confidence on tap, it’s because they continue to prove to themselves that they’re capable of overcoming the obstacles that stand in their way. After coming back from a 3-2 deficit against the Bruins to win 4-3 decision and battling back multiple times in their match with Pittsburgh to force overtime and draw a point, the Habs know what’s possible when the effort is in place.
“We’ve really been encouraging the guys to go to the net. Going in there, battling and getting rebounds is what allowed us to win tonight’s game,” pointed out Michel Therrien of Brian Gionta and Gallagher’s third period goals that may not have been pretty, but clearly got the job done.
“It takes a lot of courage to go in there and take shots in the back of the head and the back to hunt down those rebounds and that’s just what the guys did tonight,” he added. “We’re seeing more and more examples of our players going to the net and battling there.”
While the win was far from perfect, it represents the second time the Habs have come from behind this season after trailing going into the third. The final frame may have been the Canadiens' worst last season, but in 2012-13 the team has shown a flourish for finishing strong, boasting 26 third period goals.
“It says a lot about the character of this team. We knew we were still in it despite getting ourselves into some trouble in the second period,” said Michael Ryder, who picked up two assists for another multi-point night, not to mention first star honors. “We’ve been having a lot of problems in the second lately. I’m not sure if that’s been a problem since before I arrived or only since I’ve been here.
“But to be able to come out strong like that in the third, work hard, create good chances and finally win the game is huge for us,” added the Newfoundland native, who also logged a game-high five shots. “If we work like that for the whole 60 minutes we won’t have to do so much work in the third.”
With six of a posible eight points already on the board in their five-game road trip, the Habs will look to leave Florida on a high note with a Sunday night win over the Panthers in Sunrise.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Game Highlights: Canadiens-Lightning