Now that Dominique Ducharme has his first NHL victory, the Montreal Canadiens will look to give their new coach his first winning streak when they play host to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Ducharme, who replaced the fired Claude Julien last week, lost his first two games behind the bench at Winnipeg before the Canadiens bounced back with a 3-1 victory against Ottawa on Tuesday in their return home.
Defenseman Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher each had a goal and an assist and Carey Price made 26 saves as Montreal snapped a five-game winless streak (0-2-3). Tyler Toffoli clinched the victory with an empty-net goal.
“I really liked the way the guys handled themselves,” said Ducharme, who grew up in nearby Joliette, Quebec. “I knew they would be ready.”
The Canadiens blew a two-goal lead before losing 6-3 to the Jets in Ducharme’s debut last Thursday, then dropped a 2-1 overtime decision Saturday.
“It was important we had a solid game (Tuesday),” Ducharme said. “But also getting the win so the guys can see that we’re going in the right direction. If we take care of our job, the results are going to be on our side quite often.”
Price rebounded after going 1-4-1 over his previous six starts. He allowed five goals on 29 shots against the Jets last Thursday.
“I’m just thankful to get back in the net and get that opportunity to get another crack at it,” Price said. “Just been focusing on the process and keeping things simple.
“The guys played very well in front of me (Tuesday) to help me out.”
Gallagher said he was pleased that Ducharme and assistant Alex Burrows were able to celebrate their first win in their new roles.
“Both Dom and Burr have been working incredibly hard to implement their system and kind of put their footprint on this team and get us playing the way they want us to play,” Gallagher said.
“The work ethic that went into this, it’s just a building block. We’re not satisfied. We had to work hard to get out of that little skid that we were in and we don’t want to go back there, so we’re going to stay humble. We understand it’s one win. Each win in the NHL is hard to come by, so you enjoy it, but when you leave the rink, you get ready for the next one.”
The Jets, who will open a five-game trip with games Thursday and Saturday in Montreal, are coming off a 5-2 victory against visiting Vancouver on Tuesday. Kyle Connor and captain Blake Wheeler each had a goal and two assists.
The Jets avenged a 4-0 loss to the Canucks a night earlier and have yet to lose consecutive games in regulation this season.
“This is the mindset, this is something we talked about before (Tuesday’s) game,” Jets forward Mathieu Perreault said. “We want to be that team that never loses two in a row.”
The Jets are 6-0-1 following a regulation loss.
“We’ve got men that understand that four (games) in six (days), we’re going to be behind it a little bit so it might look a little gritty and it might not be smooth, but you can win a hockey game like that,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said.
–Field Level Media