MONTREAL - It was a busy day at the office for Brendan Gallagher on Saturday.
A new long-term contract, a game-tying goal, and an important point in the standings one day before heading out on a tough four-game western road trip.
Not bad for an evening’s work, but you’d have to forgive the Edmonton, AB native if he still felt short-changed.
“It definitely would have been nice to come away with two points. The one we got was big, but the two points were there for the taking,” acknowledged the 22-year-old forward, who signed a new six-year deal on Saturday, keeping him in Montreal through the 2020-21 season.
“The little mistakes hurt us tonight and it’s disappointing. We definitely need to make improvements. We were better than we were in Buffalo but we need to find ways to come away with two points instead of one.”
The Habs have won eight of their last twelve, but have now lost three in a row to pair of New York state rivals, including the last two to Buffalo. That's a fact which does not sit well with the Canadiens’ 147th overall pick in 2010, who has nevertheless become the ninth-most productive point-getter from his draft class.
“It’s disappointing, but they’re a good team. They’ve been tough on us in all three games this season. They’ve all been one-goal games – we won in a shootout, they won in a shootout tonight and yesterday they won in the final minutes of the game,” noted Gallagher, who registered four shots over 17:37 of ice time on Saturday. “They’re a good hockey team. There’s not much separation in this league so you need to show up every night. I think we played hard but we still made too many mistakes.”
Despite the setback however, following a week of contract negotiations, Gallagher is eager to now point his focus back to hockey.
“Both sides approached it wanting to get a deal done – to be honest it was pretty easy. For me the most important thing was the six years,” admitted the five-foot-nine, 182-pounder who hit the ice while the ink was still drying on his contract, putting pen to paper just several hours before puck drop. “I’m really fortunate to be able to play in Montreal. This city is awesome, and to be committed to the team for another six years – at least – and to have that kind of trust from management coming off an entry level deal is pretty cool. It’s something I’m appreciative of, and now it’s up to me to show them that they made the right decision.”
Gallagher will get the opportunity to do just that as the Habs now pack their bags for Denver to kick-off a four-game western road swing next week with stops in Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas, and a chance to prove the last three games were just an anomaly.
“The timing is right. People think the west is stronger and faster, so it’s going to be a good test for us,” underlined Max Pacioretty, who was the game’s second star after scoring late in the third to secure the shootout point. “We’re going to be playing some top teams out there. Obviously we’re in a little bit of a rut right now, but going out there, playing strong teams, and putting on a good show for a full 60 minutes at a time is a good way to dig ourselves out of it. That’s what we need to do now.”
Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com
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