With two games to play before Dec. 25, it might be too early to dust off the hoary “Christmas came early” cliché.
But you had to think that a fat guy with a white beard made a pre-emptive stop in Washington last night.
Your Montreal Canadiens scored on their 5th, 6th and 8th shots. By the time the chost Capitals built a 22-8 shots advantage, Canadiens led 3-1.
Good goaltending, a few lucky bounces and what the heck, the road trip starts with a W.
Last season’t holiday road trip produced one win in four games. The season before it was one in five.
So to be 1-0 heading to Atlanta … hey, we’ll take it.
And there were some positives. Cristobal Huet came back very strong after a seven-game absence. Guillaume Latendresse had two goals and worked hard all night. Sergei Kostitsyn got the first goal of what should be a really good NHL career. Maxim Lapierre played another strong skating game.
It’s a young team. Every win is a character-building exercise. So is every loss.
But as bad as things were in early December, maybe a Christmas swoon can be avoided this season.
Canadiens are sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one back of those amazing Boston Bruins. With the exception of Ottawa, no one looks capable of pulling away.
That early Christmas gift – two points Canadiens didn’t deserve last night – could be crucial in early April.