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Brendan Gallagher arrived at the arena knowing he was in for a fight
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Last January, Adam Pelech fell on the ice after being hit by Brendan Gallagher. The Canadiens forward was suspended for five games in connection with it.

It caused quite a stir.

Now, some three months later, we’re still talking about it. And why? Because the Canadiens, whose season is drawing to a close, faced the Islanders yesterday for the first time since the coup.

We suspected there would be repercussions, and in the wake of the Habs’ 3-2 loss, it happened. Brendan Gallagher, who doesn’t hate breaststroke in the NHL, threw down the gloves during the match.

Like it or not, there’s a “code” in the NHL and it was applied.

What you need to know is that the Islanders didn’t send a goon, however, because the club knew that it wasn’t Arber Xhekaj who was on the other side: it was Brendan Gallagher. The two Habs players aren’t built on the same frame…

So it was up to Jean-Gabriel Pageau to do the fighting.

The message got through to Gally, and while the Islanders didn’t necessarily want to get out of their game by putting all the emphasis on fighting, what Pageau did gave gas back to a club that needed it.

It was a fight that Gally had been waiting for, although he admits that he and Pageau probably didn’t deliver the fight of the year to the fans watching the game.

I arrived at the arena ready for it. – Brendan Gallagher

But that’s not the only thing to remember about the game, which was important for Patrick Roy not only because of the opponent, but also because of the state of the Eastern standings.

So, what do I remember?

1. Patrick Roy, who lost the services of Noah Dobson early in the game, saw his Islanders take a four-point lead over the Capitals, the first club currently excluded from the playoffs in the East.

With three games to go, it’s worth its weight in gold. He’s taking his team to the playoffs.

His players played a good game yesterday in New York. The Canadiens didn’t dominate, and even though the game started with the national anthem in French and went into overtime, the better team won in the end.

And New York’s Roy is grateful that hundreds of fans traveled from Quebec City to watch him lead against the Habs. Did you see that, Gary?

2. We’ve spent the season saying Cole Caufield’s goal production was lacking. But these days, he’s doing well: he has five goals and two assists in six games so far this month. He’s up to 25 goals this season.

A scorer finds a way to score.

You could say that he does it once the season is “over” for the Habs (in the sense that the Habs are officially out of the race), but the reality is that it never really started.

So much the better if he finishes the season strong.

3. We’ve talked about Caufield’s goal, but let’s mention that he also had an assist. Mike Matheson (assist), Johnathan Kovacevic (assist) and Jordan Harris (goal) also picked up a point.

Harris had a good week offensively.

Among the forwards, aside from Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki picked up an assist. He now has 76 points in 79 games. Will he hit the 80-point plateau? Will he hit the 82-point plateau?

That remains to be seen.

4. The Canadiens took five shots in the first, five in the second and four in the third for a total of just 14. In the second period, the Islanders fired 14 shots at Samuel Montembeault.

In all, the shots were 31-14 in favor of the home team. Samuel Montembeault did his job.

5. For the 24th time this season, the Canadiens lost a game by one goal. It’s an NHL record this season… and one wonders if it’s an enviable title.

On the one hand, the rebuilding club is holding its own in games and, with a little luck, would be closer to the playoffs. But on the other, winning games is a developing art.

6. I like to look at the game times after the games. The ones that jump out at me?

Mike Matheson (25:46), Johnathan Kovacevic (20:03), David Savard (23:11), Jake Evans (19:34), Joel Armia (18:01) and Nick Suzuki (19:13). Evans was Martin St-Louis’ most-used forward.


Only three games remain in the Habs’ season: tomorrow night in Ottawa, Monday night in Detroit and Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, when the Red Wings visit.

The Canadiens will train at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon in Ottawa in preparation for tomorrow’s game.

Lane Hutson will obviously be under scrutiny in the coming days. Having just been eliminated from the NCAA, we can expect to see him sign his entry-level contract with the Canadiens in the next few days.

I don’t see him playing tomorrow (but who knows, deep down) and we can expect to see him play against Detroit next week, if all goes well.

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