SPORTS

Canadiens winger Dale Weise shows knack for scoring playoff goals

04/20/2015 12:01 EDT | Updated 07/11/2015 03:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Just before the playoffs, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon highlighted NHL players in a feature called "Player most likely to..."

The first player up was long-haired Montreal Canadiens right-winger Dale Weise, and the audience was chuckling at his mugshot even before Fallon made a joke about him looking like the "love child" of actor James Van Der Beek and "Joey from Full House."

No one laughs at Weise in the playoffs, where he seems to transform from a grinding winger to a specialist in scoring big goals.

The latest came Sunday night in Ottawa, when he tied the game with a goal from a scramble in front of the Senators net late in the third period and then scored the winner 8:47 into overtime on a blast from the left faceoff dot that went in off a post.

The victory put Montreal up 3-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final, with a chance for a sweep in Game 4 on Wednesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Weise has a modest 23 goals in 258 career NHL games, but he has five in 25 playoff matches. Three of his post-season goals were game-winners, including an overtime strike in the opening game of the first round last spring against Tampa Bay. He had two more goals as Montreal upset Boston in the second round.

"That one feels really good," he said after his Ottawa goal. "That kind of bumped the Tampa one down a bit; just the importance of that series.

"We played so well to get that win, and taking a stranglehold on the series is big."

Teammate P.K. Subban was impressed with Weise's knack for scoring at key moments.

"There are guys that have made careers on that, just finding a way to get it done and listen, he's found a way," said Subban. "He deserves all the attention he is getting.

"I'd rather take players that score big goals at the right time than score in the games that don't mean anything."

For Weise, it's better to be know for that than the hitter and brawler his previous teams hoped him to be.

The six-foot-two 210-pound Winnipeg native was drafted 111th overall by the New York Rangers from the Swift Current Broncos in 2008. After time in the minors, he was claimed off waivers by the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, where he was mostly a fourth-line grinder.

Last season, he fell out of favour with coach John Tortorella, perhaps for not fighting enough, and was dealt to Montreal on Feb. 3, 2014 for defenceman Raphael Diaz in a bid to add size and grit to a smaller than average lineup.

Few Canadiens fans had heard of Weise, but his popularity surged during the Canadiens run to the Eastern Conference final and general manager Marc Bergevin rewarded him with a two-year contract worth US$1.025 million per season.

He responded with 10 goals and 19 assists in 79 games this season. He mostly played on checking units, but at times coach Michel Therrien would use him on the top line to retrieve pucks and create traffic in front of the net.

Therrien likes Weise's size, speed and physicality. He has 29 career fighting majors, but only two this season. The days when the coach looks to him for his fists rather than his hockey contributions may be over.

"He's a guy for big moments," said Therrien.

The goals came after Therrien shuffled his third and fourth lines, putting Weise with centre Torrey Mitchell and physical winger Brandon Prust.

"I just wanted to change the rhythm of Lars Eller's and Mitchell's lines," said Therrien. "We liked what we saw."

The Canadiens moved to Mont-Tremblant, Que., for the two-day break before Game 4.

MORE:cpSports