Habs happy for Carbo

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Moments after victory had been secured, a huge roar echoed through the hallways of the Air Canada Centre from the Montreal Canadiens dressing room.

Yelling in unison, the Habs players were cheering in honour of rookie head coach Guy Carbonneau, who had just notched his first NHL win.

"I'm just proud of the guys," Carbonneau said after his team's 3-2 shootout triumph over the Maple Leafs. "I've been waiting a long time for this opportunity."

And he can thank a couple of guys named Mike for providing him with his memorable milestone.

First it was Toronto-area native Mike Johnson who kicked off the heroics, snapping home the equalizer to tie the game 2-2 at 6:44 of the third period.

Michael Ryder would then seal the deal, ripping a shot past Leafs goaltender Andrew Raycroft in the shootout. The puck barely had bulged the back of the net when the Habs started hooting and hollering wildly.

"We were so happy for Guy," said Johnson, who played with the Leafs from 1996 to 2000. "I'm just glad I could contribute.

"There are only three or four guys left on the Leafs from when I played with them but it was still very satisfying to score like that. I mean, the first Saturday night of the season, Montreal-Toronto, Hockey Night in Canada ... how much more pumped up can you get?"

Johnson, who left the Phoenix Coyotes to sign a free-agent deal with the Habs over the summer, had about 20 friends and family in attendance last night.

"Some of my parent's friends are still big-time Leaf supporters so we'll have to see if we can get them turned around," he said."

Ryder, meanwhile, was grinning ear to ear. With his own friends and family watching on TV back in his native Newfoundland, what could be better than delivering the final dagger deep into the hearts of the Leafs Nation?

"I knew as I was skating in on the shootout that I was going to shoot instead of deke," he said. "It was just a matter of making the right shot."

He did.

"This was so big for us," Ryder said. "It's huge, not only for us, but especially for Guy."

Get the feeling the Habs like their new coach?


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