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Child's Play

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Chucky continues to be scary good for the Habs.

With nine goals in his last seven games -- that’s an eye-popping average of 1.28 goals per game over that span -- Alex Galchenyuk is on fire right now.

Tallying his fourth multi-goal night since February 24 -- the exciting forward previously counted just five over the course of his career prior to that -- Galchenyuk was fittingly named the first star in a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

“He’s a different player than the one he was at the start of the season. You want to give your players chances, but you don’t want them to forget who they are. That’s why we put him on the wing for awhile -- so he could find his game again. We knew he would play center eventually. Often things come down to a question of timing, and right now the timing -- and the performances -- are good. I don’t regret waiting because it was important for him to grow into the role,” explained head coach Michel Therrien, who initially made Galchenyuk his first line center on Saturday in Winnipeg.

That move was rewarded with a two-goal outing in which the 22-year-old was the team’s most utilized forward in Manitoba. On Tuesday, the Milwaukee, WI native topped that by adding an overtime-winner and an assist into the mix.

“He’s been playing with a lot of confidence since a month ago, and we felt like he was confident enough to test at center again. We didn’t want him to lose his offensive instincts. He’s playing well on both sides of the ice right now, and he’s proving that he’s capable of doing so,” continued the Habs’ bench boss. “We’ve seen some positive flashes in the past, but now we’re seeing the steady quality of play we’ve been looking for.”

The former third-overall pick from the 2012 NHL Draft insists that should come as no surprise, especially considering the company he’s keeping on the top line.

“We tried [pairing myself with Max Pacioretty] a couple of times before, but this time I wanted to make sure we got things going,” underlined Galchenyuk, who picked up an assist on the Canadiens captain’s first-period tally. “He’s without a doubt the best winger on our team, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t click. I’m just trying to adjust my game and he’s still adjusting his, but he’s so fast and powerful with such a great release, that we’ve got to go out there and make it work.”

The team’s goal-scoring leader returned the kind words.

“He’s confident. When we’re holding the puck and making plays we’re able to play some big minutes. His patience right now obviously comes with confidence, but it gives us the ability to make plays and it gives us more ice time because we’re not chasing the puck,” praised Pacioretty, who now sits just one goal ahead of Galchenyuk for the team lead with 24. “He’s hot. Our whole team had fun tonight. We’re a hardworking group, and it was nice to see Alex rewarded.”

With multi-goal performances coming against some of the League’s top teams in Washington, Anaheim and Dallas over the past two weeks, the young forward meanwhile has just one goal in mind down the stretch.

“I don’t come into games thinking about [playing a starring role], but I do put pressure on myself to go out there and create success for my teammates. It’s an honor, and I take it very seriously,” concluded Galchenyuk. “I’m focused and I want to keep it going.”

Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com

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