MONTREAL — Canadiens coach Michel Therrien believes Alex Galchenyuk is on more than just a hot streak.
Galchenyuk scored twice, including the overtime winner, as Montreal edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Tuesday night.
The 22-year-old has nine goals in his last seven games, the most in the NHL in that two-week span.
“What we saw earlier in the season, he’s not the same player,” said Therrien, who has used Galchenyuk as a winger for most of the year. “He’s playing with a lot more confidence. In the past, he had nice two or three-game stretches. This last month, he’s been able to maintain a high standard of play.
“He’s really responsible on the ice. He understands the game a lot more. That comes with experience.”
Galchenyuk centered Montreal’s first line on Tuesday, with Max Pacioretty and Sven Andrighetto on the wing. His team-leading fifth multi-goal game of the season helped Montreal (31-30-6) snap a four-game losing skid.
With the Habs down 2-1 in the second, Galchenyuk got his first of the game at 0:53 for the equalizer. The American beat Kari Lehtonen with a one-timer from the slot after receiving a nifty one-handed pass from Andrighetto, who was down on the ice behind the net.
“I put pressure on myself to try and go out there and succeed and make sure I create for myself and my teammates,” said Galchenyuk, who also had an assist on Montreal’s first goal. “I take it really seriously and I’m focused and I want to keep continuing growing into it.”
Galchenyuk one-timed home a pass from Andrei Markov from the faceoff circle at 1:59 of overtime, shortly after Dallas defenceman Kris Russell shattered his stick.
“I think I practice that shot at every practice,” said Galchenyuk. “Me and Markie practiced it today. I was waiting for that pass. Puck was bouncing a little bit, he slowed it down and put it right in the good spot. It was an easy shot to take.”
The 13th-place Canadiens are 6-0-1 in their last seven home games.
Pacioretty also scored for Montreal, redirecting Markov’s point shot in the first period for his team-leading 24th goal of the season.
Newcomer Phillip Danault added another for the home team in the second period to make it 3-2, cashing in a big rebound off the end boards for his first in a Canadiens uniform.
The Habs scored three goals on their first 11 shots of the game before Lehtonen settled down.
Montreal’s Ben Scrivens, who was shaky early on, made 30 saves to improve to 4-6-0.
The Stars (40-20-8) needed just 2:58 to score their first of the game, with Cody Eakin redirecting a pass from Jason Demers between Scrivens’ pads.
With Pacioretty in the box for holding to start the second, Jason Spezza beat Scrivens top shelf 17 seconds into the period with a big blast from just outside the faceoff circle to make it 2-1 for Dallas. Spezza has a goal in each of his last four games.
After Galchenyuk and Danault gave Montreal the lead, Ales Hemsky made it 3-3 in the second period’s final minute, beating Scrivens easily with a wrap-around.
“We started well,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Our big guys had some opportunities and didn’t score. We were slow on some of our plays going back. We scored to take the lead, and the next play we’re slow.
“We played a pretty good third period. We broke a stick in overtime and it hurt us.”
The Canadiens announced Brendan Gallagher, who sustained a lower-body injury in Montreal’s last outing, will miss two to three weeks.
Notes: Lars Eller didn’t play due to a lower-body injury. Rookie Lucas Lessio took his spot in the lineup. Patrick Sharp and Jordie Benn (lower-body injuries) were sidelined for the Stars. Prior to puck drop, goalie Mike Condon was awarded the Molson Cup for January and February.