In the Habs’ room: St. Louis has brought comeback vibes to the Canadiens

“Since I’ve been here, the guys have come to me that there’s character in this group,” says Martin St. Louis.

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Martin St. Louis has transformed the Canadiens into the most entertaining last-place team in pro sport.

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The Canadiens did not play a great game in New Jersey Sunday night, but Rem Pitlick’s goal with 36 seconds remaining in regulation time allowed the Canadiens to take the Devils to a seven-round shootout before losing 3-2 at the Prudential Center.

The Canadiens suffered the after-effects of a dramatic 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Center Saturday but Pitlick said the comeback was another example of the positive vibe St. Louis has brought to the team.

“Since Marty arrived here, we feel a new energy,” Pitlick said. “We would have liked a better result today, but it’s the kind of game we can be proud of. We played yesterday, we had to go through customs, we got here very late. In a situation like this, Marty wants us to overcome our mental barriers. We managed to recover and even if things did not turn out in our favor in the shootout, we can take positive elements from the game.”

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“Since I’ve been here, the guys have come to me that there’s character in this group,” said St. Louis, who has a 10-8-3 record since replacing Dominique Ducharme. “It’s fun to be with them behind the bench. I think we have shown that we are capable of scoring late in games and that is what we have once again achieved.”

The Canadiens were outplayed Saturday but Paul Byron scored the winning goal with fewer than three minutes to play and Jake Allen made a career-high 49 saves.

The last-minute goal by Pitlick was a reward for those fans who have faith that the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference is never out of the game.

They were treated to an entertaining overtime that saw Mike Hoffman, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt hit posts. That was followed by a dramatic shootout that ended with Yegor Shahangovich scoring the winner. Along the way, Cole Caufield, Pitlick and Hoffman scored for Montreal.

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St. Louis has earned a reputation for thinking outside the box and there was another example of that when he started Justin Barron, a 20-year-old rookie who was playing his first game as a Canadien, in the 3-on-3 overtime .

“It’s a sign of trust from his coach,” said St. Louis. “All the levels he’s played, junior, AHL, he’s an offensive guy. So you put those guys in that kind of scenario, a lot of space and time, they’re going to do offensive things.”

Barron, who was acquired from Colorado in the Artturi Lehkonn trade, played nearly 18 minutes and had three shots on goal. He said he benefited from playing with veteran Joel Edmundson.

“He helped me keep my composure,” said Barron. “He is a very good player with a lot of experience. I think I had a pretty good game once I got the nervousness out of the way.”

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Samuel Montembeault bounced back from his last outing on March 15, when he was pulled after giving up four goals on seven shots against the Arizona Coyotes.

“I had been working on things since the last game,” said Montembeault. “On Friday, I spent 45 minutes with (goaltending coach Eric Raymond). Yesterday I also worked hard. I came back confident and applied the things I had been working on this week.”

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