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Recap: For Gallagher, scoring goals just 'part of the job'

Habs forward set career highs in goals and shots and helped make his line one of the most productive in the League at five-on-five

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - For Brendan Gallagher, setting new career highs in goals has become a bit of a routine.

If you look past his injury-shortened 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns, Gallagher has reached new heights in goals in each of the other five years he's played in the National Hockey League.

So when Gallagher was asked to comment on his new personal best of 33 tallies, you can forgive him for being a little matter-of-fact about the impressive accomplishment.

"It's part of my job and it's part of what I'm supposed to do. I've got it pretty easy; I'm playing with some pretty good players and they make my job pretty easy," outlined Gallagher, who is now just 12 contests short of the 500-game milestone. "You want to do more, you want to be better, and you want help your team. And there are still little areas that you feel like you can improve, which is exciting."

Video: BUF@MTL: Gallagher puts home Danault's diving pass

One of his newfound linemates from this season, Tomas Tatar, has a unique perspective on his fellow winger, as Tatar has now been able to observe Gallagher from both the eyes of an opponent and teammate.

"Even when I was playing against him, he was still a guy I noticed. He's really good in the dirty areas. He has the touch for goals; he's really hungry around the net. Now that I'm playing with him, I've gotten to see that even better," praised Tatar, who combined with Gallagher and centerman Phillip Danault to form the fifth-most-productive line in the NHL at five-on-five with 39 goals, in February. "It's really hard to be around the net; for his size, he's super strong there. It just seems like he knows the position and reads shots really well. I've asked him many times how he tips those pucks - he seems to always find a way to tip them. It's a hard job and he's doing it perfectly."

Video: MTL@LAK: Gallagher records 30th goal on deflection

In other words, Tatar got to know the side of the 5-foot-9, 184-pound winger's game that has long endeared him to Habs fans and teammates alike. And Gallagher was certainly content to be able to maintain his durability while playing his hard-nosed, in-the-trenches brand of hockey.

"I take a lot of pride in playing 82 games. It's always nice to be there for the team. It's something you work hard for in the summer," described Gallagher, who finished third among Habs forwards with 126 hits on the season. "It is nice, but obviously, throughout the year you're going to have little bumps and bruises. But there are enough qualified people around here to make you feel better and get you ready to play the games."

Video: STL@MTL: Gallagher puts Habs ahead late off turnover

Tatar's comments on Gallagher were made following a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre on February 21, a game in which Gallagher scored his first career hat trick. Tatar was amazed the 27-year-old hadn't had any before then.

"I couldn't believe it. He's a goal-scorer," Tatar said at the time of Gallagher, who enjoyed four multi-goal nights in 2018-19. "He's scored a lot of goals in his career and I've seen him score two goals [in a game] many times. I was a little shocked it was his first one, but he deserved it; he worked really hard."

Video: PHI@MTL: Gallagher records his first career hat trick

Not that anyone would ever doubt Gallagher's work ethic, but if you need more proof of it than just Tatar's testimony, take a look at his shot totals from this year. Gallagher reached the 300-shot mark for the first time in his career: he finished with 302, which was sixth in the NHL. And despite shooting more pucks than he ever has since making it to the big show, Gallagher's 10.9% shooting percentage was still the third-best of his career.

Still, when looking back at his season and his team's remarkable turnaround in 2018-19, Gallagher couldn't be bothered by anything but the thought of winning the ultimate prize as he headed off into summer.

Video: Brendan Gallagher on the Habs' work ethic in 2018-19

"It's not [missing the playoffs in] the three of the last four years, it's the seven that I've played that you haven't won, and that's what you're playing for. You want to win. It doesn't matter how far you go or how early your season ends. You have the same feeling talking to the media until ultimately you can say you succeeded. The reason we play this game is to be winners. It's a very competitive League. I've got a lot of belief in the people running this organization and the players we have in this locker room that that is the goal. That's always the goal when you play from the Montreal Canadiens," he concluded. "And that's something that we're all working towards."

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