Darche scores in fantasy return

Darche

Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Thursday night’s game between the Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre

PAT HICKEY

The Gazette

Mathieu Darche celebrated his return to the Canadiens’ lineup with a goal as Montreal posted a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be here but it’s great to be home,” said Darche, who was recalled from Hamilton on short notice after the Canadiens were hit by a mini flu epidemic.

Darche cooled his heels all summer before finally signing a two-way deal with the Canadiens.

“It was an easy decision to call him up because you know he’s going to work hard,” said coach Michel Therrien.  “His goal was important because they jumped to an early lead and were all over us.”

Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring for the Devils at 1:20 of the first period and New Jersey was outshooting Montreal 5-0 when Darche tipped a shot by Ryan White at 2:44.

The Canadiens took the lead with two goals early in the second period.

Brandon Prust broke the 1-1 tie when he scored an unasssisted  shorthanded goal at 3:10. Anton Volchenkov was unable to keep the puck in at the point. New Jersey goaltender Marty Brodeur came out his net to play the loose puck but Prust reached it first, stepped  outside Brodeur and fired into the empty net.

Defenceman Alexei Emelin made it 3-1 at 4:47 when pinched in and scored on a rebound after Brodeur stopped Colby Armstrong.

Erik Cole completed the scoring on a feed from Tomas Plekanec  at 9:16 of the third period.          

Therrien said he thought about returning David Desharnais to the top line with Cole and Max Pacioretty but Pacioretty,  Desharnais and defenceman Raphael Diaz were among the players suffering from the flu.

“We hope it’s just  one of those 24-hour things but we’ve told our players to stay home until they’re better,” said Therrien.

The Canadiens are back at the Bell Centre Saturday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs provide the opposition.

phickey@montrealgazette.com

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