DETROIT - Jeff Petry couldn't have picked a better time to score his first career goal on home turf.
With supporters aplenty watching in the Little Caesars Arena stands, the 31-year-old Ann Arbor, MI native netted the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
The tally came just 19 seconds into the third period, and it ultimately proved to be the decisive marker that helped the Canadiens snap a two-game losing streak.
"It's exciting to get that in this building in front of a lot of friends and family," said Petry, who reached the 30-point plateau for the second straight season courtesy of his ninth goal of the 2018-19 campaign. "It's always a good place and a fun place to come back to. I grew up playing for Little Caesars [hockey program] in the old Joe Louis Arena, and being a big Red Wings fan growing up. Anytime to get back here and play, it's a special place."
Video: MTL@DET: Petry rips wrist shot past Howard
It was particularly significant for Petry to light the lamp with his father, Dan, looking on from Section 101.
The former Major League Baseball pitcher and World Series winner, who suited up for the Detroit Tigers, California Angels, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, was proud to celebrate the moment with his wife, Christine, and Jeff's older brother, Matt, among others.
"I don't care where it is, it's very nice. We've travelled a little bit. We've been to Montreal. We've been to Buffalo, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and it doesn't get old," said Mr. Petry, who enjoyed a few precious moments with the Canadiens' No. 26 following the final buzzer before the club departed for St. Louis. "It's very special in Montreal, too. It's a special place, a special team. I'm just very proud for him to be a member of that team and that organization."
Likewise, Petry takes tremendous pride in being able to put the lessons his dad taught him to good use on the Habs' back end.
"The sports are completely different, but [he taught me] just the competitiveness and the work ethic," explained Petry, the Canadiens' most-utilized player among forwards and defensemen so far this season, having logged 1,044 minutes of ice time through 44 games. "There are guys that have more talent than you, but it's about showing up every day and outworking them, and putting in the work to get better and pass those guys that it comes a little easier for."
Video: Petry on scoring a big goal in his native Michigan
Gallagher is clearly a Petry fan
Assistant captain Brendan Gallagher was pleased to see things work out as they did for Petry in his 13th career outing in Detroit.
"That's cool. Jeff's been a great player for us all year. When we've really needed to rely on him, he's been there and he stepped up and logged some heavy minutes for us," said Gallagher, who opened the scoring with his team-leading 16th goal of the year on Tuesday night. "We're pretty fortunate to be able to play with him every game. For him to come in here and score in front of his dad, I'm sure it was pretty special."
Video: MTL@DET: Gallagher jams in loose puck to open scoring
As for what makes Petry's game particularly unique, Gallagher believes there are a variety of factors involved.
"He kind of plays in every situation. His ability to learn and get better, he's very poised with the puck, he can join the rush to help the forwards out, too," praised Gallagher. "He's pretty good in his own end and shutting down the cycle. It's just kind of a complete game that he plays. Any team would take him in a second."