MONTREAL (AP) — Lars Eller is finally finding his place in the Montreal Canadiens' lineup.
Eller and linemates Erik Cole and Alex Galchenyuk each scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Canadiens to a 3-0 win over the slumping New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Eller was a healthy scratch in the Canadiens' second and third games this season, but the 23-year-old Dane has found a home in the lineup since he has gotten in.
While he hasn't gotten onto the score sheet night after night, he is doing the right things on the ice.
"At some point in your career you have to define what kind of player you're going to be and make some decisions," he said. "I feel that's where I'm at in my career right now."
After bouncing around the lineup in his first two seasons and spending a good part of the first month of this season centering the fourth line, Eller has more recently been paired with Galchenyuk, with different wingers joining them.
"I've seen him play for a couple of years. He's got talent and can play both ends of the ice," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "It's often a matter of confidence. His work ethic is exemplary right now. He's getting involved, he's moving his feet, getting on the puck and creating turnovers. It's paying off for him."
Talking things through with Therrien has helped, Eller said, as has speaking with the team's sports psychologist.
"But in the end, it has to come from the player himself," he said. "You can get the guidelines and be pointed in the right direction, but in the end you have to do the work yourself."
Carey Price made 17 saves for his second shutout of the season and held the Rangers to one total goal in two meetings this week. It marked the fourth time in Montreal's last five games that the opposition has been held below 20 shots.
"We addressed it tonight in our meeting before the game. We have a style to play," said Therrien, whose team is two points ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the Eastern Conference. "It's a demanding style, but we want to be a team that's tough to play against. The guys did a great job again.
"We picked up seven points out of eight (this week). That's pretty exceptional."
The game was particularly costly to the Rangers, who have lost three straight (0-2-1) without injured star forward Rick Nash in the lineup.
New York was also missing forwards Darroll Powe and Arron Asham, and defenseman Michael Del Zotto. The Rangers then lost their top defensive pair — Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh — during the loss to the Canadiens.