There were tears in the building.
And if there weren’t any on the Ducks’ bench when their former teammate Saku Koivu’s voice cracked mentioning his fight against cancer in the pregame retirement ceremony for Montreal’s former captain of 10 years, then some hearts need to be checked.
The point is, the commitment to rebounding from Tuesday’s 6-2 loss in Toronto and the focus on resilience in playing the fourth game of a road trip could’ve easily vanished in the emotion.
Here's what we learned from the game Thursday night:
1. The idea of a 30-goal season from Matt Beleskey is real
The second-line forward enhanced his surprising numbers with a pretty big game-winner, and now has 15 goals through 33 games. That projects closer to 35 goals.
“I asked him before the game how many shots he’d had in the last three games,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He said he couldn’t remember too many. So I said, ‘Get back to shooting the puck.’ As long as you keep shooting, good things happen.”
2. What happened to Ilya Bryzgalov?
Mystery of the day: Did Frederik Andersen’s impressive 23-save showing upset the earlier plan of making Saturday's game the return of veteran backup goalie Bryzgalov?
Earlier this week, Boudreau said it was logical to give Andersen -- after playing in 20 consecutive games -- a game off in the Montreal-Ottawa back-to-back stretch.
But he also noted how sharp Andersen was Saturday night in his 27-save victory in Winnipeg, the second game of a back-to-back.
Asked if he could start again in the bid to produce a 4-1 road trip, Andersen said, “We’ll see.”
Said Boudreau: “If I’m not getting a day off, why should he?”
3. The Ducks can stand up for themselves
Down 1-0, Montreal tried to season and marinate the visitors in the third period. The teams combined for seven penalties.
And the defining rough stuff was Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner pounding Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty to the boards, causing him to leave with an upper-body injury and reportedly require hospitalization for tests.
We’ll likely find out Saturday if the NHL thought the hit was dirty.
“Clearly, they’re a really fast team, opportunistic, and they can get their speed going, so if we can slow them down, that’s the goal,” Stoner said. “In the second, they had a couple odd-man rushes they shouldn’t have had.
“The third was one of our stronger periods.”
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm also reportedly was hurt in the third. He did not speak to reporters after scoring a first-period goal and limped toward the shower area.
4. A league without Saku Koivu is worse for it
The center may have left the NHL without a Stanley Cup, but his goodness is striking and deserves a place -- any place -- in the game.
Early in a news conference preceding his retirement ceremony, before filling notebooks for the most uplifting story of the day, he apologized to reporters for making them do extra work between a morning skate and the game.
What kind of person thinks like that?
The same kind who got diagnosed with cancer and responded by launching a $7-million-plus fund-raising mission that successfully brought to Montreal the same machine that helped him continue living.
The crowd said it best for several minutes Thursday: “Saku! Saku!”