MONTREAL | Often, there’s good reason why a player is a healthy scratch, and Mathieu Perreault has agreed with the assertion that he needs to develop more consistency in his game to stay in the lineup.
Consistency might take time – and more time on the ice – but Wednesday night the Quebec native backed up his talk in his first game back.
Perreault spoke of pressure and the tough spot he was in following Wednesday’s morning skate at Bell Centre.
“A guy like me has to wait for his turn and when I get the chance it’s just up to me,” he said.
This was his return after three straight games as a healthy scratch. But about 15 minutes before game time, it looked like he wouldn’t actually get a chance. The official NHL roster report had him listed as a scratch.
But Perreault took the ice and made the most of his opportunity. On just his second shift, Perreault fired one through Montreal Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges’ legs and past All-Star goalie Carey Price.
“I was just so excited. I didn’t even know what to do,” Perreault said. “I did the Ovi celebration – jump in the glass. I didn’t even think about anything; I was just happy.”
It was Perreault’s first goal since Oct. 22, snapping a 21-game drought.
“When you only play five, six minutes, it feels like it’s not been that long,” he admitted. “It feels good to get that goal.”
It meant even more for the kid from Drummondville, Quebec, a town about an hour outside Montreal. His parents, brother, sister and others – about 15 in all – were in attendance for his triumphant return.
Perreault finished with just 6:09 and didn’t have a shift in the third period, but his goal turned out to be the game winner. And though his role was limited, the 24-year-old made an impact.
“Matty made a great shot. He created some opportunities and he was post and in,” coach Dale Hunter said. “It was a tough shot to stop.”