Habs put out a royal effort

Was it the semi-bag skate? Was it coach Jacques Martin's cranky post-practice conference on Tuesdayy? Was it inspiration from Andrew Berkshire and Robert Lefebvre?

Whatever it was, the Montreal Canadiens took note and, played a solid 60-minute game in a 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

There is always a concern when a visiting French-Canadian goalie faces off in front of the home crowd, but this time the Canadiens ruined the homecoming debut of Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The Kings goalie has yet to get a win on the road this season.

After Tuesday's practice, Martin reiterated that a game is 60 minutes long.

The team listened and responded, unlike Monday's loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and kept the Kings 25 shots primarily to the perimeter and away from Carey Price. They also helped their goalie out by blocking 20 shots along the way.

Fourteen Canadiens players had a plus-1 rating, and every line seemed to be doing their job of getting scoring chances at one end, and shutting the Kings down at the other.

They also managed to connect on the power play via Andrei Kostitsyn at 9:59 of the first period, ending the one-game slump, with the man advantage that had also been contested by Martin against the media on Tuesday.

Now we get to Scott Gomez, who has been under the microscope for the first 20 games. You always have to wonder if NHL players actually read blogs or not. Whether the Canadiens No. 11 read either Robert or Andrew's posts from Tuesday and Wednesday is beyond my knowledge. As far as we have been made aware of officially, all the Canadiens read is the team magazine.

Either way, Gomez appeared to have got some of  the monkey off his back, or his case his butt. He was initially credited with a goal that was thought to have hit his backside at 17:37 of the first.

The Canadiens centre even told the referees that he didn't think the puck touched him. Video replay proved him right, and Mike Cammalleri was given credit for the goal. Gomez did get an assist, however.

Up 2-0, fears of the Canadiens blowing a second-straight 2-goal lead loomed when Alec Martinez score on the power play just 1:57 into the second period.

Tomas Plekanec put that fear to rest, 1:19 later, when he one timed a Brian Gionta pass behind Bernier.

If Scott Gomez's struggles were the biggest concerns of the Montreal fans, Lars Eller's failure to score a single goal all season had to be in the top-5.

"Mål! Mål! Mål!" were the words of CJAD play-by-play man Rick Moffat, after Eller took a rebound off the post and fired a wrist hot into the Kings net with 1:53 remaining in the second.

It took 21-games, but the young Dane finally recorded his first goal as a Hab.

As the Bell Centre crowd cheered, the Canadiens' centre was mobbed and hazed by his teammates in celebration. More on Eller's goal from Shauna Denis at Canadiens.com.

Eller's goal was another example of hard work paying off for him. Despite limited ice time, he has given a solid effort in nearly every shift this season.

Another solid performance came from Mathieu Darche, who played a solid 8:46 with an assist, after being a healthy scratch during a two-game Yannick Weber experiment.

Carey Price meanwhile had a relatively easier night than usual, and cited the game as "perfect."

"We played really well defensively, and played from the crease out." he said. "Everybody is on a roll right now, and doing what they have to do."

With his 13th win of the season, Price now leads all NHL netminders in that category. With the Canadiens playing back to back road and home games, chances are that Alex Auld will get his second start of the season Friday against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Power play, check. Eller, check. Gomez, it's getting there.

Max still on a roll: Max Pacioretty scored two goals for the Hamilton Bulldogs in Wednesday's 33-2 win over the Adirondack Phantoms. Over the weekend, the Canadiens prospect had four goals, including a hat-trick, against the Toronto Marlies. He now leads the Bullldogs with 10 goals this season. A feature on Pacioretty from A.J Atchue.

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