THE Montreal Canadiens, having been around the block just a few times, knew exactly what they were up against Sunday in Winnipeg.
History? Been there, done that.
Emotion? Pucks have been known to start a lot more than fights in La Belle Province.
Noise? Ever been to a game at the Bell Centre?
"The players knew there was going to be a tremendous loudness and emotion on the part of the fans and I thought we just wanted to have a strong start and try to take the fans out of it by getting ahead of them," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin.
His team did it perfectly.
Mike Cammalleri scored at 3:05 of the first period and the Habs were ahead 2-0 by the end of 40 minutes on their way to a 5-1 trouncing of the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL's return to the city after a 15-year hiatus.
None of history, emotion or noise were able to knock the Habs off their game.
Montreal centre Tomas Plekanec, who was a clear leader with a goal and two assists, said it helped that his team had already played once (a 2-0 Thursday loss in Toronto), but it wound up being a wash.
"Maybe a little bit but for them it was an advantage to play the first game in their home building," Plekanec said. "After a long, long time in Winnipeg, they were pumped up. They were flying and it was good for them, so I didn't see an advantage on either side."
Plekanec was excited about Sunday's effort after some early injuries forced winger Travis Moen up to his line. Moen had six goals last season but scored with a sweet breakaway move on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec 10:31 into the third period.
"Mo, he played a great game," he said. "He was toe-dragging and stickhandling through those guys.
"He was good, unbelievable and a big key to our game."
Montreal goalie Carey Price was a big factor in the game, too, with 30 saves. His team was outshot 31-22 by the Jets.
Getting ahead early, said Price, made for a more manageable afternoon.
"To be able to get the first couple of goals was really big for us because it takes the crowd out of it," he said. "We knew they were going to be excited here. We knew if they'd have scored first they'd have probably fed off that for the rest of the game."
The difference in his team on Sunday, Martin said, was that it kept playing after the first period.
"We had a tremendous first period against the Leafs," Martin said. "We dominated. The scoring chances were 6-0, I think. Then they got the short-handed goal at the beginning of the second and from then on, we stopped playing.
"We didn't support the puck, we didn't have any drive to the net. We were playing on the outside and you're not going to be successful if you're not working or you're not driving and playing in the traffic."
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After the game, Montreal staff had little to say about forward Mike Cammalleri and defenceman Jaroslav Spacek, who both left before the first period was over. Cammalleri was rushed off with four minutes left in the period and was present after the game but Martin would only say both players would be evaluated back in Montreal today...
The Habs went one-for-four on the power play, while the Jets were zero-for-seven, including a two-second power play at the end of the game. More critical was a five-on-three failure spanning 1:19 over the first two periods...D Zach Bogosian was Winnipeg's ice-time leader with 22:58, while Montreal's P.K. Subban was at 25:45... The Jets were 31 of 64 in the faceoff circle. Montreal won the shot-block contest 14-7 but the Jets were ahead in hitting, 26-7.