Putting up a combined ten shots on goal and eight points in Sunday night's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders, the trio of Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher wreaked havoc on the opposition's defense corps all night long, enabling the Canadiens to snap a four-game losing skid.
“Lars and Gally and I talked before the game about going out there, not thinking too much out there and not trying to do too much,” offered Alex Galchenyuk, who had one goal and two assists against the Islanders and was named the game’s first star. “We made sure to make simple plays and keep our feet moving all the time and good things happened.”
Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season at the start of the second period, taking advantage of some open ice to streak down the wing and beat Isles goaltender Kevin Poulin, a Montreal native playing at the Bell Centre for the first time.
While Pierre-Marc Bouchard of the Islanders tied the game 1-1 a few minutes later, Eller put the home team ahead for good with a flawlessly executed one-timer on the power play in the middle of the frame. It was the Dane’s first goal in 12 games.
“When you are losing and trying to help the team by scoring, it’s difficult,” confessed the 24-year-old forward, who ended his night with one goal, two assists, and a third star selection. “When you look at most of our games, we played well but the puck just wasn’t going in for us. Today, it did, and it feels good to help the team win by getting some goals.
“I think we were just having fun on the ice. We worked hard to go get the puck, and when we have it, we don’t give it up easily. We know what makes us successful, and it’s good to be rewarded for doing those things tonight,” added Eller.
The win was also the 250th of Michel Therrien's NHL coaching career. The Habs bench boss had much to say about how his players excelled at both ends of the rink against the Isles.
Therrien also had good things to say about the Pacioretty-Plekanec-Gionta line, which kept the high-powered Islanders offense in check.
“We played really well five-on-five. I thought Plekanec’s line did a great job preventing Tavares and his line from generating offensive chances,” mentioned Therrien. “I see good things in our team. That’s why we have been focusing on the positives. Tonight was a good performance.”
Part of the secret for the Habs’ return to success is their players’ undeniable love for the game.
“I definitely enjoyed the way we played today. My linemates and my team did great,” praised Galchenyuk. “Hopefully we’ll just keep getting better.”
Gallagher was equally thrilled with the success the Canadiens enjoyed on Sunday night.
“It’s all about having fun. That’s why we play. When everybody is contributing and sacrificing for the team, that’s when hockey becomes a great game,” underlined Gallagher, the team’s leading goal-scorer through 18 games. “It feels good to get back on the winning path. It’s a matter of realizing what we did well tonight, and continuing to do those things.”
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.