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MTL@ARI: About Wednesday night...

Brendan Gallagher celebrated his 500th career NHL game with a goal and a big Canadiens win

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

GLENDALE - Here are a few key storylines from Wednesday night's 4-1 victory over the Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

Brendan makes it count

It's safe to say that Brendan Gallagher will always remember his 500th NHL game.

It took the Canadiens' assistant captain just 22 seconds to make his presence felt against the Coyotes, opening the scoring with a trademark tally on goaltender Antti Raanta.

Video: MTL@ARI: Gallagher jams puck home at the doorstep

Gallagher's sixth goal of the season got Claude Julien's contingent off to the start they were looking for in the Valley of the Sun, and they didn't look back the rest of the way.

"The win was nice. I think we needed this as a team," said the 27-year-old right-winger, following the Habs' second straight victory. "When you have these little nights you're going to remember, you want them to be wins. It was definitely nice for the guys to play as well as they did."

Shortly after lighting the lamp, the Coyotes even paid tribute to Gallagher for his latest milestone.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Classy Coyotes 🙂#GoHabsGo

Admittedly, that caught the Edmonton native by surprise.

"I wasn't expecting that. I haven't seen that before, but I guess they like me. Nice organization," said Gallagher, who was recognized on the scoreboard. "That was something they definitely didn't have to do, but I definitely appreciated that."

Come the third period, Jonathan Drouin actually scored a goal that really did have Gallagher's name written all over it.

Video: MTL@ARI: Drouin jams loose puck home in crase

The strike was another tribute of sorts to a player who earned the respect of his peers from the outset of his career.

"He looked at me after the goal and winked," said Drouin with a smile.

Julien is eager to see Drouin use that same goal-scoring methodology more and more often as the season continues. 

"For Gally, that's been his bread and butter forever. Jonathan Drouin, who's slowly turning the corner and playing some good hockey, it's encouraging to see him doing different things. He's going to the net. He's getting rewarded. You just hope as a coach that when you see those kinds of things, that the guy is just going to buy into it and get encouraged to do it even more," said Julien. "The more players we have doing that, the better for us."

The merits of scoring early

Gallagher's goal wasn't the Canadiens' only early-period marker on Wednesday night.

Captain Shea Weber followed that up with a strike of his own just 24 seconds into the middle frame.

Video: MTL@ARI: Weber nets one-timer from the blue line

According to the NHL's Public Relations Department, it was the third time in franchise history that the Habs scored a goal in the opening 25 seconds of multiple periods in a single game.

That last occurred on February 2, 1980 in Los Angeles.

"Those goals at the starts of periods are huge. We know what it's like when they go against us, and for us," said Gallagher. "It creates a lot of momentum, and carries over for the rest of the period."

For his part, Nick Cousins struck early in the third period, too. His goal came with just 77 seconds off the clock courtesy of a perfect feed from youngster Nick Suzuki.

Video: MTL@ARI: Cousins scores off Suzuki's nice feed

"That was an incredible pass. He's got tremendous playmaking ability. He's fun to play with," said Cousins, who definitely enjoyed his return to the desert. "It's fun to score against your former team, especially a big goal there in the third to pad our lead."

Suzuki feeling good

There's no denying that Suzuki is looking increasingly comfortable with every passing game playing alongside Cousins and Nate Thompson.

The 20-year-old London, ON native has been steadily honing his craft, and passes like the one he made to Cousins are a good indicator of that.

"Game by game, it's always a challenge. Every shift, you have to put your all in," said Suzuki, who has three goals and five points in 12 games. "I've been just seeing video of myself out there, and how much time or how little time I have. I'm just getting used to all the players."

On Thursday night, the Canadiens' No. 14 will have a chance to put his skills on display in front of the Golden Knights' brass at T-Mobile Arena.

They drafted him 13th overall in 2017 before trading him away along with Tomas Tatar to Montreal in September 2018.

"I definitely had it on my calendar. It's going to be exciting. I never got to actually play in the building. I'm looking forward to my first game there," mentioned Suzuki. "Hopefully, I can have a good game and show my old team something."

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