PURE POWER: If Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson took anything away from Wednesday night’s contest at Honda Center, it’s that Alex Galchenyuk might just have one of the best shots around. On two occasions, the sheer force of Galchenyuk’s blasts were too much for Gibson to handle. It marked the fourth time this season that the Canadiens’ No. 27 had registered a multi-goal effort, tops amongst all players on the roster during the 2015-16 campaign.
Nevertheless, the Milwaukee, WI native wasn’t focusing on his efforts, in particular, in the aftermath of the Canadiens’ 3-2 shootout defeat. Instead, Galchenyuk reflected on the game as a whole, which saw Michel Therrien’s troops come up just short against a Western Conference powerhouse that just happens to be an elite squad on home ice.
“A game like this is such a close game. It could have gone either way. It’s unfortunate that we ended up being on the losing side again. We played a pretty great team. We showed up and competed and made plays. It was fun to play,” said Galchenyuk, who scored his 18th and 19th goals of the year in the loss playing alongside Lars Eller and young gun Michael McCarron – and also generated a game-high six shots on net. “I think the penalties killed the momentum a little bit. There were some tough calls, but that’s part of the game. Stuff happens. We’ve got a game on Thursday night, so we’ve got to bounce back.”
Galchenyuk, meanwhile, enjoyed playing with McCarron on the same trio.
“I thought he was pretty strong. He’s a big guy. He wins the battles down low and created space for me and Lars,” shared Galchenyuk. “It’s one game, so we’ve got to keep going and keep creating offense and be solid defensively also.”
STRENGTH ON DISPLAY: When Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa took a run at Lars Eller late in the second period, Michael McCarron didn’t hesitate to step in and go toe-to-toe with the veteran rearguard. McCarron held his own, letting his teammates know he’s got their backs when any one of them finds themselves in a tough spot.
“If I’m on the ice and someone gets buried like that, I’m going to step in. That wasn’t a very clean hit, either,” said McCarron, who had four fights on the year with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps before electing to drop the gloves with Bieksa on Wednesday night. “It’s a part of the game. I’m going to have to do that.”
McCarron also appreciated the opportunity to play with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk against a highly-skilled Ducks squad that really is a force to be reckoned with.
“I thought I played pretty well tonight. I thought my line created a couple of scoring chances,” said McCarron, who saw 13:26 of playing time and dished out three hits. “Chucky got a couple of goals. I thought our whole team played a strong game. We just needed to find a way to win.”
THE FIRST OF MANY: Defenseman Morgan Ellis made his NHL debut on Wednesday night, and while it didn’t end with the Canadiens coming out on top, the 23-year-old has a lot to be proud of with respect to his performance on the blue line. Ellis played a steady game while logging 10:31 of ice time – and chipped in with a couple of shots, too, along the way.
“I felt good. At the morning skate, you try and get some of the jitters out, but there’s still a lot more to start the game. Once I got my first shift out there, though, I just tried to settle in and play poised and in control,” said Ellis, who hit the ice for 16 shifts during his first taste of NHL action. “For the most part, it wasn’t too bad [a performance], but there still are some areas to improve on, for sure.”
In his post-game press conference, head coach Michel Therrien said that the Prince Edward Island native had played well enough to earn another shot on Thursday night in Los Angeles. This time around, those so-called “jitters” certainly won’t be as present as they were in Ellis’ mind in Anaheim.
“I’ll know what to expect a little bit more, I guess,” said Ellis, referencing any and all opportunities down the road to sport the CH for real. “The game is quick out there, so you’ve got to make quick plays and be ready to take hits because that’s how these big teams play. I’ll try to make the most of [the opportunity to play].”
Prior to the tilt, Ellis’ teammates made him feel right at home by sending him out to take the warm-up by himself before joining him a few seconds later.
“Subby told me to lead the boys out, so I knew exactly what was going on,” cracked Ellis. “I figured that I’d be doing a lap by myself and they would be coming behind me. It’s all part of it. It was fun. It was a great experience. It’s one I’ll remember for a long time.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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