Just one week ago, both the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks were frustrated, failing to win and questioning darn near everything about the game of hockey.
When the two teams meet in NHL action Monday in Vancouver, they’re both coming off some pretty big wins.
The Canucks beat the host Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 Saturday to sweep a pair of games, and the Canadiens dumped the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 at home before kicking off a six-game road trip in Western Canada.
The Canadiens had lost six of their previous seven before finding an offensive outburst the Jets couldn’t match.
The Phillip Danault-Brendan Gallagher-Tomas Tatar combo was knitting together plays all night long, connecting for two Gallagher goals in the second period. Gallagher and Tatar also got an assist each on a third-period goal from defenseman Jeff Petry.
“We’ve been working hard the last five or six games,” Danault said. “We deserved to score more goals and have better results. All of our work paid dividends tonight.”
Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Joel Armia and Paul Byron added a goal apiece for the Canadiens.
Interim head coach Dominique Ducharme, who took over bench duties from the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 24, could feel the relief in the dressing room.
“I was really happy for them,” Ducharme said. “It won’t be like that every night but to be rewarded like our players got rewarded tonight, I think it’s good for them because they put in the work.”
He echoed Danault’s thoughts on hard work paying off.
“We’re seeing the progress in the way we’re playing,” Ducharme said. “We have to continue performing this way. We have to keep working on our game to get consistent results.”
The Canadiens will have to find ways to shut down the Canucks line of Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat. The combo connected for three goals in Saturday’s win over the Leafs. Miller and Boeser finished with a goal and two assists each, while Horvat had a goal and one helper. Nils Hoglunder finished the scoring for the Canucks.
“It’s been a tough go, and for our team to keep battling and stick to the process tonight, I think it’s huge for our group and give us a lot of confidence,” Boeser said.
The Canucks trailed 2-1 entering the third period but scored three straight goals for their first come-from-behind win of the season. They also became the first team to take two straight from the Leafs, after winning 3-1 on Thursday.
Miller, who logged the game-winner at 9:31 of the third, said the wins are building confidence in the Canucks’ dressing room.
“It feels pretty awesome and we know it’s in there,” he said. “It means a lot to us. We take a lot of pride in beating a team like that at home twice when we really need wins. We talked a lot over the last three weeks or so about playing well but not getting the results.
“We’ve shown that we can beat anybody in the league, and we still believe that, even though the record wouldn’t necessarily show it. But it feels pretty awesome.”
–Field Level Media