Mike Babcock addressed the media after his team broke the 14-game losing streak to the Montreal Canadiens with a 4-3 OT win at the Bell Centre.
Auston Matthews — the way he seems to come up big in big moments. 12 months ago, these were games you were finding ways to lose and now you’re finding ways to win them.
Babcock: Obviously, they’re good players. Him and Willy made a nice play in overtime. They want to be in those moments. Guys who have been doing that their whole life just believe they’re going to get it done at that time. Fortunate for us. I didn’t think we were outstanding tonight by any means, but we found a way to win. Good road game. Our goaltender got better as the game went in and had a good third. In the end, we win.
Are you okay with the way things went after the loss to New Jersey?
Babcock: It’s just a different game. We tried tonight. To me, I’m good all the time as long as you compete. It’s not about whether you lost. It’s about whether you competed or not and the way you went about your business. I just think it’s straightforward. You come every day and you compete.
Is it experience that you’re winning these games now? Is it more than experience?
Babcock: I don’t know the answer to that, to be honest with you. We’re not playing near as good as we were at the end of last year. Not even close. In saying that, we’re probably playing better than we were at this time last year. We have more talent, but we can still play way better than we’re playing and we plan on getting better.
That was a long shift by Matthews and Nylander in OT. Were you a little worried if things didn’t go right?
Babcock: Obviously, they got down deep and we wanted to change. We actually tried to get Naz on. It’s just the way it worked and it worked out good. We’ve got to keep short shifts.
Not surprised that Andersen upped his compete level as this game progressed?
Babcock: We need Freddy to do that. Obviously, it hasn’t gone the way he’s wanted exactly. Our record is good but we know he can be way better. Any time you come in here and you’re playing Price — he’s the best there is in the league — it’s great to look down the rink at him. You’ve got to beat him one on one. You’ve got to be better than him if you want to win. I thought he did a good job tonight.
Your forwards seem really confident in their abilities to score. Is that how you see it? They just know that they’ve got it in them?
Babcock: Well, we can score. In saying that, we’ve got to learn to play, though. Today, they clogged it up good. They played good in their own zone. We turned over a lot of pucks that we didn’t need to. We just need to learn how to play and we will.