After stringing together back-to-back wins, the Montreal Canadiens are suddenly playing with renewed confidence.
They know they can't let up, however, especially with a rematch against the Boston Bruins looming.
Two nights after winning in Boston, the Canadiens look to sweep a home-and-home set from their Original Six rivals Saturday night in Montreal.
Montreal (3-5-2) opened the season with just one win in its first eight games - its worst start in 70 years - leading to the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn on Wednesday. The Canadiens responded hours later with a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia and followed that with Thursday's 2-1 win over Boston.
"Obviously after the start we had to the season, this is great for our confidence," center Tomas Plekanec told the Canadiens' official website. "We have another big game on Saturday.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us, but our effort is much better and our team game is much better. We're on the same page and supporting each other."
Thursday's meeting was the first since a seven-game series in the first round of last season's playoffs that Boston won en route to its sixth Stanley Cup championship.
The Bruins (3-6-0) haven't been nearly as successful against the Canadiens in the regular season, going just 3-7-3 since 2009-10. They've lost the last four regular-season meetings in Montreal.
Boston is also not playing anywhere near a championship level. The Bruins have the fewest points in the Eastern Conference, and their next loss will be their seventh - a point they didn't reach last season until Nov. 20, their 18th game.
"I'll probably get nightmares on how we are playing right now," coach Claude Julien said. "Our inability to focus for 60 minutes is obvious and apparent."
Boston's lone goal Thursday came off the stick of Plekanec, who won a first-period faceoff and accidentally knocked it past Carey Price. The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer six times, all losses.
The punchless offense has made things difficult for Tim Thomas, who is 3-4-0 despite a 2.14 goals-against average. He stopped 33 shots Thursday, falling to 2-3-2 with a 3.11 GAA against the Canadiens during the regular season since 2009-10.
Eric Cole was the first to beat Thomas, tying the score at 10:27 of the second period, and Plekanec atoned for his earlier mistake by scoring the winner with 9:14 remaining in the third.
"It's another big two points but at the same time wins don't matter unless you continue winning," Cole said. "We're just going to have to enjoy it (Thursday), get some rest and get ready for a big game on Saturday."
Price finished with 29 saves, and has stopped 50 of 52 shots in winning the last two games. He is 8-2-0 with a 2.43 GAA against the Bruins in the regular season since 2009-10, and has posted a 1.73 GAA in winning the last four in the series in Montreal.
Thursday's meeting featured a second-period fight between Boston's Brad Marchand and Montreal's P.K. Subban, but it doesn't seem like any anger between the two carry will over to the rematch.
"It wasn't Marchand who frustrated me," said Subban, who played with Marchand in juniors. "There was no animosity between us."
That doesn't mean somebody else won't drop their gloves in a rivalry that dates back to 1924.
"Stuff happens in a game like this, when emotions are high," Marchand said.