ST. LOUIS – There’s no denying Alex Galchenyuk’s unique ability to break a hockey game wide open.
Back in the Canadiens’ lineup after missing the last two games with the flu, Galchenyuk played the right-wing position to perfection, lighting up the St. Louis Blues with two goals in a three-point effort that paced Michel Therrien’s troops to a 5-2 win at Scottrade Center. It was first time since November 2008 that the Canadiens managed to leave Missouri with two big points in the bank.
“To be honest with you, I needed the first couple of shifts to get used to playing on the right side, especially in the defensive zone, maybe not so much in the offensive and neutral zones. It’s pretty much the same, but you’re on a different side in the defensive zone. Going from forehand to backhand took some time, but it went well,” offered Galchenyuk, who scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season on Tuesday night, in addition to amassing a plus-3 differential and three blocked shots while logging 15:41 of ice time. “I knew it was going to be tough for me to get out there. I had a workout right before the game, and I felt good.”
That was evident right from the start, as Galchenyuk showed absolutely no signs of the illness that forced him to sit out games against the Florida Panthers and the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre. After re-directing a P.K. Subban feed past Blues netminder Jake Allen at the 13:22 mark of the opening frame, the 21-year-old forward put the Canadiens up 2-0 by wiring a wrist shot past the helpless goaltender 3:11 into period two.
“We tried a set play on that second goal. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Pleky and I talked about it right before we jumped on the ice,” shared Galchenyuk, who now sits tied with Tomas Plekanec for second place on the team in goals during the 2014-15 campaign, 11 markers back of Max Pacioretty. “He told me to jump on those pucks more and be quicker. That’s what I did, and luckily enough I was able to get the shot through.”
It’s safe to say that Galchenyuk’s goals kickstarted the Canadiens’ offense against Ken Hitchcock’s contingent in their lone regular season visit to the Gateway City. Brendan Gallagher went on to score two goals of his own, and Michael Bournival got on the
board with his third goal of the year, too.
“The thing I’m most proud of is probably that we just keep sticking to our game plan and we keep playing our way. We know that we want to come out really hard the first 10 minutes of the game. We didn’t back down and we kept playing the same way from the start to the end and we ended up winning,” praised Galchenyuk, who registered his third multi-goal game of the season on Tuesday night. “This is a big one, too. We definitely feel good about ourselves right now.”
As they should after besting a squad that entered the contest boasting the league’s best record in inter-conference play this season. The win also was a historic one for Carey Price, who picked up his ninth straight road victory, establishing a new team record that belonged to Rogatien Vachon, who won eight consecutive road outings December 12, 1968 and February 8, 1969.
“Carey does still impress us. It’s just amazing the way he’s playing this year. In my mind, he’s the best goalie in the league,” mentioned Galchenyuk, who watched Price turn aside 27 shots to pick up his 34th win of the season. “The stats show that. You just have to look at how calm he is in goal. We have such great confidence in him and we enjoy playing for him, for sure.”
It’s safe to say that feeling is mutual.
“It’s a pretty neat record. I think that speaks volumes about the character on our team, that we go out and compete on the road. We’re a very confident team when we go into opposing teams’ buildings. We wind up playing the right way and we get rewarded for it,” offered Price, who hasn’t dropped a road decision between the pipes since December 6 in Dallas. “We played a great two-way game. We scored five goals. Obviously, it was good to see Chucky come back and have an impact. We played very well defensively and we couldn’t ask for a better effort.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSOThe Numbers Game: February 24, 2015 Canadiens acquire forward Devante Smith-Pelly
Delivering the goods