On a night where the Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes were eliminated from the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens fought for their lives against the Philadelphia Flyers and won.
The Habs defeated the Flyers 5-3 in Game Five of their first-round playoff series, forcing Game Six for Friday at Scotiabank Arena.
Of all the stories in the series, it was the play of Brendan Gallagher that drove the win.
The Montreal forward was benched for most of the third period of Tuesday’s 2-0 loss and bounced back by scoring a critical goal Wednesday. He found twine on his 37th shot of the restart, snapping a nine-game scoring slump, and he lost a tooth thanks to a Matt Niskanen crosscheck late in the game.
“That’s the Gally we love,” Canadiens interim head coach Kirk Muller said. “He brought guys into the fight.”
Indeed he did.
The Habs took advantage of a Philadelphia team that didn’t look all that sharp in places. Flyers goalie Carter Hart did not have the greatest night after recording back-to-back shutouts. He was almost pulled from the crease after a Nick Suzuki goal, but the marker was correctly waved back after an offside review and head coach Alain Vigneault put him back in.
“There might be one or two he might want to have back,” said Vigneault. “But at the end of the day we have a lot of faith in him. He’s played extremely well for us. He’ll be fine next game.”
Philadelphia has every reason to believe he will be fine next game, as Hart’s stood on his head against his idol Carey Price. That’s set the tone of the series, a low-scoring duel of the goaltenders.
Price has allowed eight goals against in the series, including the three Wednesday, while Hart has allowed nine.
Joel Armia had two goals for Montreal, while Jakub Voracek had two power play goals for the Flyers. Gallagher, Suzuki, and Phillip Danault also scored for the Habs, while Joel Farabee had the other goal for the Flyers.
Montreal forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct after drilling Flyers defenceman Travis Sandheim in the second period.