A win is a win.
And a Canadiens loss to Carolina at the Bell Centre Tuesday night would have been calamitous.
But Carey Price was on his game, the Canadiens ended the longest losing streak of their season and Michel Therrien is safe in his job.
At least until Friday morning.
The Canadiens play in Boston Thursday night.
That game will provide the true test of whether the good ship CH has righted itself.
Shall we get the negatives out of the way first?
Carolina was playing its fifth game in seven days – the brutal result of a postponement due to bad weather in the U.S.
How did this tired team against the Montreal Canadiens, who had been idle since Saturday?
The Hurricanes lost on the scoreboard. But the stat sheet suggests Carolina spent an inordinate amount of time in possession of the puck and directing it toward the Canadiens net.
The visitors had 36 shots on Price. The Canadiens blocked 27 shots – led by Josh Gorges with seven and Andrei Markov with five. Carolina missed the net 12 times.
That tallies up to 75 times Carolina directed pucks toward Price.
The Canadiens had 30 shots on Anton Khudobin. Carolina blocked 10, and 8 missed the net. Total: 48.
The ostensibly tired team won the puck possession battle 75-48. If that happens in Boston Thursday night … well, maybe Price will pull a Ken Dryden, circa 1971, on the Bruins.
Let’s hope he doesn’t have to.
The Canadiens will travel to Boston having resolved (for the moment) a couple of issues that troubled them during their losing streak.
• Lars Eller – who looked, during the left-wing experiment, about as comfortable as Stephen Harper in a mosque – was back at centre, with Brandon Prust and a surprisingly energetic Rene Bourque.
• Michaël Bournival, who was nine years old when Brian Gionta played his first NHL game, brought speed, physicality and youthful energy to his LW duties with the captain and Tomas Plekanec.
• Another solid game for Nathan Beaulieu, who played 15:01, blocked a couple shots and looked good in his 1:44 of power-play time.
• Douglas Murray played a solid 17 minutes, including 3:10 on the penalty kill.
• David Desharnais, whose line was jumping all night, went 13-5 on faceoffs. Plekanec was 14-9.
• Alexei Emelin led both teams with four hits.
• As per the possession stats cited above, the Canadiens spent too much time in their own end, a tired team forechecking them effectively and forcing too many bad passes and turnovers.
• Daniel Brière played 8:36, mostly on the fourth line – less ToI than anyone except George Parros, whose one-year contract is for $7 million less than Brière is going to make through next season.
But hey, the Canadiens got two points to solidify their hold on an Eastern Conference wild-card playoff perth. They’re a point behind Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division, and the Canadiens have two games in hand.
On to Boston.