Stu Cowan: Daniel Carr Ends Long Day For Canadiens With Win Over Bruins
QUEBEC — It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon for the two-hour drive from Brossard to Quebec City on Tuesday.
The scenery passing through Ste-Julie, Ste-Hyacinthe and other smaller towns on the way to the provincial capital was beautiful, with the trees changing colours under bright sunshine, a temperature in the mid-teens and white clouds so perfect they looked fake.
For the Canadiens, it was their annual preseason trip to Centre Vidéotron — the best junior arena in the world with 17,196 in attendance — and they beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 on a beautiful goal by Daniel Carr at 15:10 of the third period. Mike McCarron intercepted a pass in the Bruins zone and then Carr displayed some dazzling stickhandling to go around defencemen Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid before deking goalie Tuukka Rask.
It was only a preseason goal, but it will be on the highlight reels for a long time.
“I think that one was pretty good,” Carr said with his boyish smile. “It was nice. It was a good play by Macker to chip the puck back to me there and it was just one of those things.”
It was a thing of beauty.
Ryan Spooner, Christian Ehrhoff and Austin Czarnik scored for the Bruins, while Jeff Petry, Artturi Lehkonen and Alex Galchenyuk also scored for the Canadiens.
Brian Flynn left the game in the first period suffering from neck pain after a hit and didn’t return and the Canadiens got a scare in the second period when Brendan Gallagher crashed backward into the boards and left the ice holding his head. But the little bulldog was back on the bench a couple of minutes later and finished the game.
This trip meant different things for different players.
For some of the Canadiens veterans, it was a long day they could probably do without, starting with an 11:30 a.m. practice in Brossard, followed by the two-hour bus trip, a game, and then back on the bus at 10:30 p.m. for the ride home.
For others it might have brought back some good memories from their junior days riding the buses.
Those days weren’t very long ago for defenceman Mikhail Sergachev, and he might be back riding the buses with the junior Windsor Spitfires at the end of training camp. But on Tuesday morning, the team’s first-round pick at this year’s NHL Draft (ninth overall) was thrilled to be making the trip after not being among the nine players cut from camp Monday.
“When I saw my name not cut, I was pretty happy,” Sergachev said. “But I felt bad about my friends who got cut.”
Sergachev said coach Michel Therrien has told him to just play his game during the preseason and not worry about anything. The 18-year-old had a bit of a “welcome to the NHL moment” early in the second period when he was caught behind the net with his head down and got flattened by 6-foot-5, 215-pound Jimmy Hayes. But Sergachev got up and kept playing — and he continued to play well.
For Lehkonen, it was another opportunity to earn a job with the Canadiens and avoid returning to Frolunda in the Swedish league. After hitting a goalpost in the first period, the unlucky 21-year-old finally found the back of the net for the first time in his fourth preseason game on a one-timer from the slot on a nice pass from Alexander Radulov.
Tuesday was also a day that saw goalie Carey Price and defenceman Shea Weber join the Canadiens at practice in Brossard for the first time at training camp after helping Team Canada win the World Cup. Neither of them made the trip to Quebec.
“It’s relief, but it also destroys my confidence,” captain Max Pacioretty said with a smile Tuesday morning about seeing Price back in goal. “First off, I don’t want to go down there and hit him in the head. That messes with my head a little bit. But then, at the same time, you don’t put it bar down, he’s saving it. It’s very nice to see for the team, but I got to maybe shoot at the other end (in practice) more often than not.”
Price and Weber could be in the lineup Thursday night when the Canadiens play their final preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.
Pacioretty wasn’t in the lineup for the Canadiens’ preseason game in Quebec last season, when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1, but was looking forward to seeing Centre Vidéotron.
“I don’t like riding the bus, but I enjoy going to Quebec,” the captain said. “It’s fun to see fans that don’t get to see us often at all … once a year. They’re very, very passionate.”
Carr gave them something to cheer about in the end and made the bus trip back home in the dark much more enjoyable for the Canadiens.