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First impressions

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Whether it was a first-ever game at the Bell Centre or a first game back, Wednesday night’s matchup left its share of impressions.

After grabbing the attention of fans over the past week at the Habs’ training camp, prospect Brendan Gallagher got the chance to put his skills on display for a near-packed house Wednesday night at the Bell Centre, and despite a few early nerves, he didn’t disappoint.

Post-Game Show: Gabriel Dumont
“I was definitely nervous in the first period and spent most of it just chipping pucks in and trying not to make a mistake,” confessed a grinning Gallagher. “As the second and third periods came along though, I got more comfortable and started to be able to do some of the other things that I know I’m capable of.”

The 19-year-old forward not only shared the team lead for hits against the Sabres, but he also netted his first unofficial NHL point, assisting on the Habs’ only goal of the game.

“It was a really great experience. They obviously dressed a lot of their regular lineup, so for me to be able to play against those guys and feel like I fit in was nice for me tonight,” he added.

Habs captain Brian Gionta, also making his preseason debut against Buffalo, had nothing but praise for the young winger.

“He’s going to be a great young talent for us as he progresses along,” expressed Gionta. “He’s still a young kid and he has a lot of time to grow as a player, but from what he’s showing now he’s proving he’s got a ton of talent and a great work ethic.”

Another first in Wednesday night’s game was Max Pacioretty’s return to action after mending from a fractured vertebrae and concussion. Considering he had the most shots of any skater on the ice while also tying Gallagher with three hits, the outing was clearly a big step forward.

“I felt like it was the first time that I put on skates in my life. It was one of the greatest feelings,” said Pacioretty. “I was little bit nervous, and sometimes I thought I had less time than I actually did, but at this point it’s still just a learning process and I’m going to continue picking things up.

“It’s definitely a first step in the right direction. I know I could have probably felt a little better out there, but for a first game back, I’ll take it.”

Clearly not worried about his teammate’s future in the league, P.K. Subban, the Habs’ lone goal-scorer of the night, had a few choice words of support for Pacioretty.

“Have you seen Max? The guy is jacked. He’s ready for this season. We knew he was ready when he walked in for the first day of training camp,” promised Subban. “There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he’s going to be a force out there. He’s only 22 and I think he’s capable of being one of the best power forwards in the league.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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