MONTREAL — Brendan Gallagher understands he may be shuffled around from line to line this season, and that suits him just fine.
Making his return to the ice, Gallagher helped the Montreal Canadiens notch a 2-1 comeback win Saturday in the second game of a pre-season back-to-back with the Ottawa Senators. The Canadiens lost the first game 7-2 on Friday.
Down 1-0, Gallagher levelled the score for the Canadiens with an unassisted goal on the power play at 13:35 of the second period. The winger intercepted Josh Brown’s clearance and beat Anton Forsberg with a heavy wrist shot.
Head coach Dominique Ducharme put Gallagher on a line with Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli following an injury to Cole Caufield.
“My game can translate pretty easily regardless of what line I’m on, so wherever the coaches want to play me, you won’t hear me complain,” Gallagher said. “You hope for an opportunity to help the team and I know I’m gonna get that. You understand the role and you just take advantage of whatever you get.”
Ducharme called Gallagher “the ultimate example of a team player.”
“He might be a guy that may move up and down the lines because he can challenge the other guys,” Ducharme said. “You need to work hard every night with him. He might be the one that sees the most teammates this season.”
Suzuki got Montreal’s go-ahead goal early in the third. From the back of the net, Toffoli placed the puck in the slot and the young centre took a blocker-side shot to give Montreal the 2-1 lead.
Forsberg played two periods, allowing one goal on 18 shots. Filip Gustavsson took over in the third period. He stopped four shots but gave up the game-winning goal.
The Senators opened the score for a second straight night. Tim Stützle redirected Evan Brannstrom’s shot past Cayden Primeau to give Ottawa a first-period lead.
Primeau played all three periods, making 19 saves on Ottawa’s 20 shots.
With Carey Price’s injury, Montreal’s goaltending duo is still up in the air. Primeau says he is simply focusing on giving his best during pre-season.
“I don’t make those decisions. Obviously I would want to be with the best of the best, but at the end of the day you got to go to work every day,” Primeau said. “There are pros and cons to both scenarios, so no matter what happens there are benefits that can come from both.”
The Canadiens picked up Florida Panthers netminder Samuel Montembeault from the waiver wire before Saturday’s game.
Without saying if Primeau or Montembeault would be backing up Jake Allen in Montreal, Ducharme said he welcomed the added depth.
“We always liked Samuel and he’s still a young goaltender at 24 years old,” Ducharme said. “We like his potential and we’ll see what happens. It adds even more depth to our organization at this position and we’ll see what unfolds. With Carey's injury, it’s always good to have more options.”
Primeau said that seeing the news before the game did not affect his performance in Montreal’s win.
“Every time you have a chance to play, you gotta give it your all,” Primeau said. “There shouldn’t be extra motivation and I’m excited to have another person to push us in the organization.”
Montreal made seven cuts following Saturday’s game. Jean-Christophe Beaudin, Tobbie Bisson and Corey Schueneman were sent to the AHL affiliate Laval Rocket.
Brandon Baddock, Laurent Dauphin, Jean-Sebastien Dea and Michael McNiven will need to go through the waiver wire. Ducharme also hinted that another round of cuts could occur following Monday’s practice.
Entering their final week of pre-season, the Canadiens head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Oct. 5. They return to Montreal to host the Sens once again on Oct. 7.
The Senators return to Ottawa to host the Maple Leafs on Oct. 4 before finishing their pre-season in Montreal.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2021.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press