Cayden Primeau said his first week in the NHL has been like a roller-coaster and he took the Canadiens along for the ride Wednesday night as Montreal defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in overtime at the Bell Centre.
The 22-year-old goaltender made 35 saves to post his first NHL win. The victory extended the Canadiens’ current win streak to three games and they moved into third place in the Atlantic Division.
Primaau was on the wrong end of a 3-2 count in his NHL debut last week against Colorado. He experienced some nerves in the opening minutes of that game, but he was composed throughout Wednesday’s game.
After the first couple of minutes, it was a new experience and there were so many emotions,” Primeau said about his debut last week. “It was definitely a different experience tonight. You want to get the win in the first game, but it was a learning experience and I took that over the weekend and worked with it. “Today, I wasn’t concerned about winning and just focused on the next shot (knowing) the results will come.”
Primeau has settled into a routine working with starter Carey Price and goaltender coach Stéphane Waite.
“I’m impressed with just how hard they work,” Primeau said. “They don’t work super-long, but they make sure they get their work in. That’s been the biggest eye-opener, how hard they work.”
Primeau joined the team from the Laval Rocket when Montreal was going through its biggest slump of the season, but he said he didn’t feel any extra pressure.
“You come up and your job is to get the team going,” Primeau said. “If Carey’s going, I’m his No. 1 cheerleader and if my name’s called, I just try to give the team the best chance to win.”
Captain Shea Weber has been impressed with the young netminder.
“He’s huge, he covers a lot of net,” Weber said. “The composure he has for such a young kid is great. At his age, he’s steady and he’s only going to get better.”
“You look at tonight and he was calm and he made big saves on a couple of 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s where he played the shooters,” coach Claude Julien said. “Whether you see him tomorrow or next week, he’s got a good future in front of him.”
Primeau was named the first star of the game, while Ben Chiarot was awarded the second star after scoring the game-winner at 1:11 of overtime. It was Chiarot’s first overtime goal.
“I’m grateful that the coach had confidence to send me out there in overtime,” Chiarot said. “I played in overtime early on in my career in Winnipeg, but I didn’t play a lot the last few years because they had a lot of offensive defencemen. They had Byfuglien, Myers, Trouba, a whole laundry list of guys.”
Ryan Poehling was called up from Laval earlier Wednesday and he earned praise from Julien for playing what the coach called a “man’s game.” The Canadiens’ roster included five rookies — Primeau, Poehling, Cale Fleury, Otto Leskinen and Nick Suzuki.