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In the Habs Room: 'It was a fun game,' Monahan says about 2-1 victory

"It’s a hard league and you need special people to do special things," coach says about veteran forward's performance in Calgary.

Canadiens forward Sean Monahan watches a video tribute honouring him on the scoreboard at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome during first period of Thursday night’s game.
Canadiens forward Sean Monahan watches a video tribute honouring him on the scoreboard at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome during first period of Thursday night’s game. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

CALGARY — The Canadiens’ Sean Monahan arrived at the Scotiabank Saddledome for Thursday night’s game against the Calgary Flames wearing a plastic walking-boot cast on his right foot.

The cast was back on his foot after the game as he answered questions from the media, still sweating after taking a shower while wearing a suit with a toque on top of his head.

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In between the time he took his cast off and put it back on, Monahan assisted on goals by Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield as the Canadiens beat the Flames 2-1 in Monahan’s first trip back to Calgary — where he played for nine seasons — before being traded last summer.

“He’s a tough bastard,” said Canadiens goalie Jake Allen, who was the star of the game, stopping 45 of the 46 shots he faced.

The Flames honoured Monahan with a video tribute on the scoreboard during the first TV timeout six minutes into the game and he received a standing ovation.

Monahan said there was no chance he was going to miss this game and he picked up his first assist only 13 seconds after the puck dropped when Slafkovsky scored.

“It was a fun game,” Monahan said. “I played with those guys (on the Flames) for quite a while, most of them. To come out with two points, have a good start to the game and Jakey standing on his head, it’s one I’m always going to remember.”

When asked if the cast was the result of taking a shot off the foot in a previous game, Monahan said: “Yeah, just a sore foot.”

When asked about the pain he endured during Thursday’s game, Monahan said: “Not too bad. I can deal with it right now, so I’m good. I feel good. It’s something minor and I’m just trying to get over it.”

Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis was asked what the young players on the team can learn after watching Monahan’s performance against his old teammates.

“If anything, this league is hard,” St. Louis said. “It’s a hard league and you need special people to do special things to play a long time and I think that’s what they’re seeing.”

Slafkovsky, the No. 1 overall pick at this year’s NHL draft, got to play on the second line with Monahan and Josh Anderson for the first time this season. The 18-year-old rookie said the 28-year-old Monahan has the ability to make the players around him better.

“He understands the game,” Slafkovsky said. “He knows when to slow down, when to bring more speed, how to cycle the puck and stuff. I think that’s pretty much it and that’s what makes other players better on the ice.”

Allen came into the game after allowing 22 goals in his previous five games and this was his second consecutive start after Samuel Montembeault had played the two previous games and won them both. St. Louis gave Allen a vote of confidence when he put him back in goal for Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre, saying he was “the No. 1 goalie.” Putting Allen in goal again against the Flames was another vote of confidence.

Allen, however, never heard what St. Louis said about him still being the No. 1 goalie.

“I didn’t even know he said that,” Allen said when told about St. Louis’s comment. “I haven’t followed the media all year, so I’m the last guy to know.

“Me and Marty have a good relationship,” Allen added. “He’s very open with me. It’s been great dialogue since Day 1. There’s going to be some bumps in the road. I’m not perfect, either, and hopefully can get better from here.”

Monahan is a quiet, soft-spoken man, but you could see the emotion in his face after the game. He has had surgery on both hips over the last two years and knows what it’s like to play with pain.

As NHL players do when they face their former team for the first time, Monahan put some money on the locker-room board before the game as added motivation for his teammates.

Was it an expensive victory for him?

“Yeah, for sure,” Monahan said with a grin. “A lot of tickets (for friends and family). Money up on the board for the guys and trainers and whatnot. But it’s worth every penny.”

  1. Christopher Tanev #8 of the Calgary Flames chases the puck against Kirby Dach #77 of the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 1, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    Allen solid again as Canadiens win in Calgary

  2. Montreal Canadiens forward Sean Monahan skates during warm-up in his first return to the Scotiabank Saddledome since being traded, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.

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