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Canadiens' new second line breaks through in OT

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- If ever one goal could give a line confidence and have a carryover effect in a series, it's the goal that Alex Galchenyuk scored in overtime Thursday night.

A shot from Tomas Plekanec and a rebound off of Galchenyuk's arm that deflected past New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was the difference in the Montreal Canadiens' 3-2 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers still have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, and Game 4 is Sunday at the Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), where it will be interesting to see if Montreal's second line of Galchenyuk, Plekanec and Brian Gionta can build off of one lucky break that, for now at least, has turned the series on its ear.

"It gives you confidence," Gionta said, "but at the same time we've gotta go back and try to figure out what we can do better to establish a better forecheck, to get on their D, force them to turn pucks over and come to the net with it."

Galchenyuk, Plekanec and Gionta didn't do much of any of that in Game 3. Before the game-winning goal at 1:12 of OT, they had one shot on goal, from Plekanec, who lost 10 of his 19 faceoffs.

"To be honest, it doesn't really matter," Galchenyuk said. "We won the game. We're going to take this right now, winning the game rather than generating a lot of chances and lose."

You can see his point, but the goal doesn't erase how ineffective the line was through regulation. Galchenyuk knows that.

"It's not like who cares, because obviously we want to create as many chances as we can, but sometimes it's tough with the chemistry," he said. "We didn't play together for a while. It's a new line. We're trying to adjust to each other. But we get the win and that's the most important thing."

Montreal coach Michel Therrien put Gionta on the line in place of Thomas Vanek for Game 3 after basically calling out the Plekanec line for its underwhelming performance in the first two games of the series.

Plekanec was minus-3 with three shots on goal and eight shot attempts in the first two games. Galchenyuk, who returned to the lineup in Game 2 for the first time since April 9, was minus-1 with two shots on goal in Montreal's 3-1 loss at Bell Centre. Vanek, who was on the fourth line Thursday, was minus-3 with one shot on goal in Games 1 and 2.

At least Gionta, who was playing on the third line with Lars Eller and Rene Bourque, had an assist in Game 1, but that was a 7-2 loss. He had four shots on goal in Game 2, but had nothing brewing in Game 3 until overtime.

Gionta got the puck through the neutral zone to Plekanec, sending him into the offensive zone with speed. Plekanec put a shot on net, the second of the game for the line, and the rebound went in off of Galchenyuk.

"I think for them it's going to be good for their confidence, and especially a young kid like Galchenyuk, who is 20 years old, scoring the goal in overtime," Therrien said. "I'm sure that's a good feeling for him. He's going to feel good about himself, and that's going to be good for his confidence."

Now the Canadiens have to wait to see if that one goal is enough to ignite the line's confidence going forward. They need it to.

"Sometimes those are things that can send you on your way to have a few good games in a row," Montreal forward Daniel Briere said. "There are not a lot of games left anyway, so it could be a good omen for them."


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