Sheldon Souray had never given any indication he was anything more than a stay-at-home defenseman who wasn’t afraid to throw his weight around.
Souray, who had never recorded more than 11 points in any of his previous six seasons, has emerged as one of the best offensive defenseman in the league this season. He is tied with Rob Blake of Colorado and Chris Pronger of St. Louis for second among defenseman in scoring with 32 points, seven behind league leader Sergei Gonchar of Washington.
The 27-year-old blueliner set a Montreal single-game record for points by a defenseman with a goal and five assists in an 8-0 rout of Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Canadiens’ fifth win in their last seven games (5-1-1).
Souray broke the team record of five points, shared by Hall of Fame defensemen Doug Harvey and Lyle Odelein, assisting on each of Montreal’s first five goals—the first four on the power play—before scoring midway through the third period on a slap shot from the left point off a faceoff.
Souray’s five assists were one short of the Montreal record of six, set by Elmer Lach in an 8-3 win over Boston on Feb. 6, 1943.
“When I scored a hat trick (Dec. 18 against Detroit), I said it was the first time I did that since a father-son game—and I don’t remember having six points in that game,” said Souray, whose previous career highs were four points and three assists.
“This is probably the first time for me.”
Michael Ryder, who had two goals and two assists in the rout, said Souray made his job a lot easier.
“Souray has a great shot and when he shoots the puck, it’s so hard the rebound’s usually right there,” said Ryder, who leads NHL rookies with 31 points on 11 goals and 20 assists. “I just went to the net and stood around and the puck managed to bounce out and I whacked it in.”
The Blues ended a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) with a 7-4 victory over Chicago on Monday. Reinhard Divis rescued the Blues after replacing ineffective starter Chris Osgood in goal in the second period, stopping 15 of 15 shots the rest of the way.
Pronger, who had two goals and an assist on Monday, has three goals and six points in six games this month.