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It was the wily vets who helped drive Montreal on Saturday night

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The younger players were good. The vets, however, were on another level.

NHL: MAR 20 Canucks at Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens walked away from Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks with two points, both of them extremely well-earned despite it going to the shootout. Nick Suzuki had a beautiful snipe for his second goal in as many nights, and Victor Mete’s speed brought a new dimension to the Habs’ defence that they were sorely lacking. Yet at the end of the night, the Canadiens’ veterans had been the ones who helped to push the team over the finish line.

When Montreal went down by a goal in the second period, it was Tomas Tatar finishing off a feed from Phillip Danault to tie the game. Again when the Habs fell behind in the third period, they went back to their most reliable forward in Brendan Gallagher. The feisty winger grabbed the puck right off a faceoff draw, and fired a perfect shot past Holtby to help push the game beyond the regulation 60 minutes.

In the shootout, the suddenly ageless Corey Perry used great patience to best Holtby, and Tatar struck again with some quick dekes to secure the second point. The goals and assists and all are obviously important, but the veteran leaders were doing so much more than what shows up on the statsheet.

The trio of Tatar, Danault, and Gallagher put together an impressive 77.8% Corsi-for percentage at five-on-five, while also generating 12 scoring chances and allowing just two against. They created three high-danger chances and surrendered none in return. And even with the third-least ice time among forwards, Corey Perry was on the ice for nine scoring chances and gave up just one.

Across the board it was an impressive showing by the entire Canadiens team, but it looked a lot like luck wasn’t going to be on their side in a game they were again dominating. Luckily for them, they have the right mix of vets and young guns coming together to push through the struggles to get the team to a result they deserved. When the playoffs roll around, they’ll need those same vets to step up and guide the Canadiens, much like we saw in the bubble last summer.