The Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in overtime on Sunday and have now won three games in a row. Andrei Markov fired a rebound off the boards past Martin Brodeur to secure the win. After losing 2-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 19, the Habs have beaten the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and now New Jersey.
The Devils were the Habs’ toughest test of this young season, having previously won their first three games. But Montreal was up to the task, and much of the credit can be given to three players they didn’t have last year; two young rookies and a refurbished veteran.
After Ryan White opened the scoring, rookie Brendan Gallagher scored his first to give the Canadiens a two goal lead half way through the first period. Gallagher collected a perfect pass from fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk and made no mistake firing the shot past one of his idols, Martin Brodeur.
“I grew up watching him play, he was my favourite goalie,” Gallagher said. “For me it’s a little story I can tell when I’m done playing hockey.”
Galchenyuk would add a second assist on Brandon Prust’s goal in the third period. Head Coach Michel Therrien was really pleased with the play of his two young forwards.
“We’re seeing a lot of combativity from the two young players,” Therrien said. They “were on the ice for two goals. They had a lot of energy. What’s good is that they’re learning and we’re seeing results.”
With Max Pacioretty missing the next 3-4 weeks after having an emergency appendectomy, it appears both young players will be staying for a while. And based on the offence the two provided against the Devils, Habs fans shouldn’t be to worried about goals while Pacioretty recovers.
But the hero for the third game in a row was Markov. After playing only 20 games over the past two seasons, Markov has scored the game winner in all three wins this season and he’s back to being the offensive guy fans remember.
Markov had 64 points in 2009 and has broken the 40 point mark in three other seasons.
After scoring again against the Devils, Markov didn’t have much to say. But he remained as humble as ever, refusing to take credit for the three game win streak.
“The whole team played hard tonight,” Markov said. “We knew it was going to be a good challenge for us because we were playing against a good team, so we played hard and I’m happy we won the game.”
But his teammates didn’t shy away from praising the 34 year-old defenceman.
“He’s a good hockey player, I don’t think anybody really doubted him in this room,” said goaltender Carry Price. ”That’s just the type of player he is. The supporting cast around him is helping him, the power play is clicking right now, but he’s just a special player.”
The Canadiens are proving doubters wrong this season, but the battle doesn’t get any easier. They will play in their first back-to-back of the season, first welcoming the Winnipeg Jets to the Bell Centre on Jan. 29 and then traveling to Canada’s capital for a game against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 30.