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In the Habs' Room: Veteran Corey Perry makes waves in debut with a goal

Canucks' Quinn Hughes (43) and Tyler Myers (57) check Canadiens' Corey Perry (94) in the third period at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021.
Canucks' Quinn Hughes (43) and Tyler Myers (57) check Canadiens' Corey Perry (94) in the third period at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021.

He had to wait to make his debut as a Canadien, but Corey Perry was a perfect fit as he helped Montreal wrap up its season-opening, six-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday night.

The 35-year-old Perry was called up from the taxi squad to replace the injured Joel Armia and he slipped seamlessly onto the line with Tyler Toffoli and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

“It was good to get in and get our feet wet,” Perry said. “The first couple of shifts, I turned the puck over once, but once you get in the flow of the game it was good. I’ve played a few games in this league and it comes back quickly and I felt good. I played with some pretty good players tonight.”

Perry scored a goal to put the Canadiens up 2-0 in the second period. He was on an odd-man rush and it appeared he might have been trying to pass to Kotkaniemi when the puck was deflected by a defenceman and went through Braden Holtby’s pads.

“I’ll always say I wanted to shoot, but I saw (Kotkaniemi) going back door and I think the goal went in off the defenceman,” Perry said. “He made a great play going back post and it opened up the way for me.”

Perry said he wasn’t surprised odd-man rushes have been the Canadiens’ bread and butter in the early going.

“It’s good back pressure, it’s a good system, a good gap from our D and good defensive zone coverage,” Perry said. “We’ve always been saying we’re big and we’re quick and it shows.”

The Kotkaniemi line was on fire in the first two games against Vancouver, scoring seven of Montreal’s 12 goals.

“They’re highly skilled players who see the ice well and they’re playing really well, and I just wanted to continue to help them along,” Perry said.

Perry is excited about the young centres Nick Suzuki and Kotkaniemi.

“I skated wth Nick in London over the break and I knew what he was all about,” Perry said. “He has skill, he has vision, he has finish. He’s the real deal. l didn’t know much about K-K, but I knew he was coming into his own and he’s impressed me.”

The team’s depth is reflected in the statistics. Every skater has registered at least one point and Paul Byron and Phil Danault are the only forwards without a goal.

Joel Edmundson scored an empty-netter, but his biggest contribution came when he dropped the gloves wth Tyler Myers . He was seeking retribution for Myers’ hit Thursday on Armia, who suffered a concussion.

“I just went up to him and asked him if he would give me one and he said yes,” Edmundson said, when asked about a short discussion the two had during the warmup.

“It was really short,” said Edmundson, who trains with Myers in Kamloops in the off-season. “The first shift we were out there together it happened. Our team wasn’t a big fan of the hit and he stepped up. He didn’t back away and you have to respect that, but we’re still not a fan of the hit.”

The win gave the Canadiens a 4-0-2 record to start the season, which has coach Claude Julien happy, but cautious.

“I felt good about our group from the get-go,” Julien said. “I said openly I think we have a good team and it’s just putting it together. But, having said that, I’m not going to sit here and say I’m satisfied. I love the fact we took 10 out of 12 points on this road trip, but there are still things we have to work on.”

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