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A winning combination

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – It hasn't taken the line of Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty long to pick up right where it left off last season.

Back together again after a brief period apart to start the year, the trio came to life on Thursday night against the Bruins, combining for three goals and eight points to help the Canadiens secure their fourth win in their last five games.

For his part, Gallagher is the most recent addition to the line, which originally featured Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau alongside Desharnais and Pacioretty when the season kicked off back on October 8th in Toronto. Since head coach Michel Therrien juggled his lines in Washington, however, reuniting the Canadiens’ most-utilized trio in 2013-14, all three of his troops have managed to hit their stride in short order, wasting little time showcasing the chemistry that defined them as a cohesive unit during one of the most successful seasons in recent memory.

“We came back together pretty quickly. We didn’t miss too much time, so I think that when we got back together we just knew the way we had to play to be successful. We knew the style that each guy plays. It didn’t take long to get used to each other. Hopefully, we can continue to get better,” offered Gallagher, who is coming off the first multi-goal game of his NHL career after registering a pair of goals against Boston. “As a line, I think we do a good job of supporting each other and nobody holds on to the puck for too long. We’re moving it around and everyone’s involved. I think that’s what makes us successful.”

In Gallagher’s eyes, the line’s ability to come together and click ever so seamlessly isn’t due to familiarity alone. The three-year NHL veteran believes that combining unique skill sets is something that cannot be underestimated when it comes to terrorizing opposing defenders and ultimately lighting the lamp.

“I just think it’s a good mix. We all bring something different to the line. When you look at Davey, he’s obviously an unbelievable playmaker. He’s one of the best in the NHL at finding you. No matter where you are on the ice, you’ve got to be ready to get the puck. With Patch, he’s got elite skill, especially with the way he skates and shoots. It’s something that opponents have got to be really aware of. That opens up space for other guys,” mentioned Gallagher, who posted a career-high 19 goals last season. “As a line, I think it makes it pretty easy for us to do our jobs.”

The numbers from last season alone suggest that’s definitely been the case. Not only did Gallagher, Desharnais and Pacioretty tally a combined 74 goals and 153 points in 2013-14, but they also accounted for 35.4 percent of the team’s total markers.

“We do a lot of talking throughout the game. It’s more when we get to the bench. We’re talking about little ways that if we do get in a situation where guys are going to be, we’re aware of it. It pays off throughout the year,” stressed Gallagher, who sits tied for second on the team alongside Parenteau with five points on the year. “You get back in that same situation again, and you understand things. Instead of having to think about a play, it just happens.”

Acutely aware of the fact that the makeup of any given line is subject to change at a moment’s notice, Gallagher is adamant that the goal now is strictly for the trio to keep trending in the right direction while putting points on the board at every opportunity.

“The lines are going to be switched up over the course of a season. As a player, your role is to perform, regardless of who your playing partners are. It’s definitely fun to play with those two guys, and as long as we’re having success together, there’s no reason to split us up,” indicated Gallagher, who currently leads the Habs with 17 shots on goal. “We were successful against the Bruins, but you have to remember that it’s just one game. I know that 82 games make a season, so we’ve got to find a way to do it consistently."

Based on how Gallagher, Desharnais and Pacioretty have gelled early on, there’s no reason to believe they won’t find that magic more often than not from here on out.

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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