Montreal’s Gallagher confident in his linemates ahead of Game 3 against Rangers

Gallagher finding chemistry with linemates

NEW YORK — Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher hopes he and his linemates can carry their momentum over to Game 3 against the New York Rangers.

Gallagher, Paul Byron and Tomas Plekanec made a major impact in Montreal’s Game 2 overtime win over the Rangers to even their Eastern Conference quarter-final at a game apiece.

Game 3 is at Madison Square Garden Sunday night, and Gallagher feels they need to be just as effective on the road.

“We weren’t great in Game 1. We were able to sit down and talk about it but we came back with a pretty good effort in Game 2 and I think that’s been important, building that chemistry,” said Gallagher. 

“We know going forward we’re going to have to play well to have success. Having that chemistry is a big step in the right direction.”

The trio combined for two goals, two assists and 15 shots on goal in the Game 2 victory, with Plekanec’s marker in the dying seconds of the third period forcing overtime.

“It all starts with (Plekanec). He was awesome in the face-off centre last game, obviously scored a big goal. But all the little things he does: always in the right position, tough for guys to play against,” said Gallagher. “With Paul’s speed he puts defenders on their heels, another smart player. I think the three of us just work well together.”

Through the first two games, Montreal has outshot New York 89-68.

The teams were credited with 31 shots each in Game 1. In Game 2, Montreal outshot New York 58-38, including 18-9 in the third period and 13-8 in the overtime. The Rangers aided Montreal by going into a defensive shell in the third period in order to protect their 3-2 lead, which was a major factor in their 4-3 overtime defeat.

“I feel like it always happens in hockey, when a team sits back and the other team’s down. They can take a few chances offensively,” Nash said prior to the Rangers’ flight back to New York Saturday morning.

The Rangers were 17 seconds away from leaving Montreal with a 2-0 series lead, almost entirely due to the play of Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist has a .955 save percentage after the first two games of the series. He recorded his franchise-record setting 10th shutout in New York’s 2-0 win in Game 1.

“Certainly we could be better,” Ryan McDonagh said.

New York compiled a 21-16-4 record at the Garden during the regular season, which was the worst home record for all of the teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Montreal’s 23-14-4 road record was fifth best in the NHL.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with our mindset,” Jeff Petry said about switching from home to the road. “The first two games we had strong starts and we need to continue to have that approach.”

Montreal coach Claude Julien said he would announce any potential lineup changes Sunday before adding an illness has “been going around” the team. Julien also said defenceman Alexei Emelin is “going to start skating” and is categorized as “day-to-day.”

The Canadian Press

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