Just like old times
Almost exactly 24 hours after acquiring Gomez from the Rangers, Bob Gainey had no arm twisting to do when he approached unrestricted free agent Brian Gionta on July 1. Reuniting with his longtime Devils linemate was a no-brainer for Gionta. On Monday night against the Penguins, he showed why.
“It was sure nice to play together again after all this time,” admitted Gionta who hadn’t played with Gomez since 2006-07. “We were strong controlling the puck well and supported each other really well out there. That always makes everything easier.”
Four games into the exhibition schedule, the old pals had yet to be dressed for the same game, let alone play together. That all changed against the Stanley Cup champs, with Jacques Martin finally pairing them up on a line for the first time. The result: a pair of goals for Gionta and one for Gomez, which saw them even reverse roles as the usual finisher delivered a sweet cross-ice pass to his favorite centerman on his goal.
“Brian got lucky on that one. He really isn’t much of a passer!” quipped Gomez with a smile. “I’m not sure who closed their eyes first there, since I’m usually the one setting him up. The chemistry was there, but we still made a few mistakes, too. We came back to the bench laughing a times going: ‘Oh that’s how do you it!
“But it’s still preseason, we can’t get too excited, either,” warned Gomez. “Our team isn’t even set yet, but it’s good to know that Brian and I can be an option for the coach.”
After beginning the game along side Max Pacioretty and striking twice in the first period, the tandem was at it again in the final period with Mike Cammalleri joining in on the fun.
“They are already firing on all cylinders when I got there tonight,” shrugged Cammalleri, who help gift-wrap Gionta’s second goal of the night and eventual game-winner. “I’m not sure if he was ready for that pass, but he sure buried like he was. Things are going to come together for us as a group. We’re getting our chances and that’s the important thing.”
Handed his first chance to play alongside his buddy Gomez, Gionta certainly made the most of it.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
Two players assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs
Seventeen players assigned to Hamilton
Best friends forever?
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