In the Habs Room: Brendan Gallagher not alone in hitting a milestone

Phillip Danault and Max Domi also had a big night as Gallagher led the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-1 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday.

It took Brendan Gallagher 467 games to register his first NHL hat-trick and it came at the right time, as he led the Canadiens to a 5-1 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night.

“I’ve been stuck on two goals for a long time and it’s nice to get it out of the way,” said Gallagher, who scored on the first shift of the game. He picked his second goal midway through the first period to chase Philadelphia starting goaltender Carter Hart, and then completed the hat-trick against Brian Elliott in the second period.

Gallagher said the goal was to put pressure on the rookie Hart from the opening faceoff.

“He’s a great goaltender and he’s done a lot for them, but we just tried to get pucks to the net,” said Gallagher. “The last time we played them (a 5-2 loss on Jan. 19 at the Bell Centre) we had a good first period but we let them hang around and they came back and beat us. Tonight we were getting pucks behind them and we kept the pressure on.”

Gallagher said he couldn’t remember exactly when he had his last three-goal game, but it was back in junior hockey.

“I never had a hard time getting the third one in junior,” he said.

Gallagher wasn’t the only Montreal player to hit a milestone Thursday.

Phillip Danault collected an assist on Gallagher’s first goal, and that gave him a career-high 41 points.

He was returning to action after taking time off this week to attend the birth of his son, Phillip-Édouard. He said earlier Thursday that he hoped to get a point for his son, and someone grabbed the puck for him after the goal. He didn’t get to keep it, because it became part of a three-pack to mark Gallagher’s hat-trick.

“I got a puck,” said Danault. “I couldn’t take one of Gally’s.”

Max Domi had an assist on Tomas Tatar’s goal in the second period, and that gave him a career-high 53 points.

As for Tatar, he continued to make the Max Pacioretty trade look good as he reached the 20-goal plateau for a fifth consecutive season.

Gallagher doesn’t pay attention to individual honours, but said he isn’t surprised players are having career seasons.

“They come with winning,” he said. “They’ve all been key contributors for us this year; we’ve relied on them, and that’s why you’re seeing all those milestones.”

Going into the season, there was concern over who would provide the offence after losing Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk. But the scoring is up this season, and Thursday marked the 15th time this season the Canadiens have scored five goals.

“I think it’s just the fact that we’re playing fast,” said coach Claude Julien. “When you play fast, there’s nothing harder to defend than when you’re facing some speed coming at you. Our transition game has been pretty good. Guys coming back hard gives you the opportunity to turn up the ice and then go back with some speed instead of maybe being lazy.”

The Flyers came into the game as the best faceoff team in the NHL, but the Canadiens won 51 per cent of the draws, with proud papa Danault winning 12 of 19.

There was no chance for the Montreal power play to fail, because the Canadiens didn’t have a single opportunity with the extra man. The Flyers went 0-for-3 with seven shots on goal.

Georges St-Pierre, who held UFC titles in two weight classes, was given an ovation when he was introduced prior to the game. St-Pierre announced his retirement earlier in the day. There may have been a few tears from the Evenko folks, because it will be difficult to sell a mixed martial arts show without the popular St-Pierre as the headliner.

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Georges St-Pierre is honoured before the start of the Canadiens/Flyers game at the Bell Centre on Thursday. Dave Sidaway / Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette




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