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In the Habs Room: We weren t at our best in win over Blackhawks, Julien says

In the Habs  Room:  We weren t at our best  in win over Blackhawks, Julien says
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Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry shoots against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Chicago. Kamil Krzaczynski / AP

CHICAGO — Carey Pice said there’s always room for improvement, but it’s difficult to believe the Canadiens goaltender could play much better than he did in .

Price made 37 saves, including 13 when the Canadiens were shorthanded for nearly 15 minutes.

“The best penalty killer is always your goaltender, and tonight he was outstanding in my book,” said coach Claude Julien. “Our penalty-killers did a good job, especially in the third period when we were out there for six minutes in a row. I don’t know if we wore out their best players, but we had some fresh legs out there at the end and we were able to get the winning goal.”

The winning goal was provided by Tomas Tatar, who atoned for some undisciplined play earlier in the game. Tatar took three penalties, but he was credited with his 12th goal of the season when he tipped Jeff Petry’s shot from the point with 1:17 to play.

“We weren’t sharp, we weren’t at our best, but finding a way to win is important,” Julien said. “We can look at some games we should have won and didn’t. They say they even out and this one tonight was one of those that help to even things. This was an important point in the standings.”

It was third consecutive win for the Canadiens, who hold the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference with 35 points, one back of the Boston Bruins. More importantly, Montreal opened a four-point edge over the ninth-place New York Rangers.

Shea Weber has shown no signs of rust after missing nearly a year following foot and knee surgeries. He was on the ice for a season-high 29:32 and had 8:31 of PK time. He scored a goal, had three hits and blocked three shots.

“It definitely was not our best by any means, but sometimes good teams find a way to win,” Weber said. “I think we grinded this one out and got a timely goal.

“I don’t think you want to take eight penalties every night because it’s going to bite you, but obviously at the end, Carey was great for us. It was big night for the PK. I don’t know how many shots we blocked, how many sticks were shattered but guys were sacrificing their bodies.”

The loss left the Blackhawks with the worst record in the NHL, but Weber said they aren’t a team to be taken lightly.

“They’re struggling, but they have a lot of top-end guys over there, who have done a lot of good things,” Weber said. “You see things can turn around in this league with win streaks and losing streaks.”

One of those talented players is Patrick Kane, who provided the Blackhawks’ scoring with his 14th and 15th goals of the season.

Kane’s first goal was the only power-play goal of the night and Price gave credit to the Blackhawks for having a good net presence.

Price admitted he misread the play on Kane’s second goal.

“I didn’t pick up the pass and I pushed off late,” Price said. “I tried to reach for the puck but, maybe it was bad ice, but he didn’t get everything he wanted on the shot and my timing was off.”

When asked about Chicago’s 39-28 edge in shots, Price found the bright side and noted: “It keeps you in the game.”

The Canadiens will enjoy a day off in St. Paul on Monday before they wrap up their three-game road trip with a game against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center (TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
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