Gallagher in uncharted territory as goal drought continues

The Carolina Hurricanes scored three goals in the third period on their way to victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

These are uncharted waters for Brendan Gallagher.

The plucky winger has set a new career-high by going 12 games without a goal, and it hasn’t been for lack of effort.

In fact, on Friday—as part of a dominant performance from the Canadiens in Carolina—Gallagher had nine shot attempts and fought tooth and nail to find the back of the net.

But the 24-year-old just can’t buy one right now, and neither could his team when they needed a goal late in the game to even up the score against the Hurricanes.

Frustration has to be mounting for Gallagher, just like it must be for the 13-3-2 Canadiens who have now lost three consecutive games for the first time this season.

“I just have to keep doing the right things,” Gallagher said before the Canadiens left for Carolina.

Both Gallagher and the Canadiens unquestionably did things right on Friday, and they were left with nothing to show for it in the 3-2 loss.

Gallagher and linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Byron dominated possession by controlling roughly 64 per cent of the shot attempts in all situations but finished the night with a combined minus-3 rating.

The Canadiens out-shot the Hurricanes 33-18, out-hit them 30-23, and out-drew them by a four per cent margin — that’s no small task, considering Carolina came into the game as the best faceoff team in the league.

They say you make your own luck, but that adage didn’t really apply to how the Hurricanes took a commanding lead in a game they had no business being in after two periods.

The Canadiens had Carolina on the ropes but failed to register the kill shot. They were out-shooting the home team 21-8 through 40 minutes but only found a way to beat goaltender Cam Ward while he was forced out of the play via a collision with Montreal forward Daniel Carr.

It took a little less than six minutes in the third period for the Hurricanes to score three goals and extend their winning streak to three games. It was a confluence of heady play and some good bounces that put the wind in their sails, starting with Jeff Skinner’s brilliant redirect in the high slot and ending with Victor Rask’s sharp decision to take a quick shot that fooled Montreal goaltender Al Montoya.

The Canadiens didn’t give up after Carolina’s third goal. They battled back with a goal of their own to close the gap—a brilliant give-and-go between Andrew Shaw and Andrei Markov with 4:31 remaining.

Gallagher didn’t give up, either. A little over a minute after Shaw’s goal, he launched a puck at Ward’s net, which pinged off the post at full volume. He was on the ice less than two minutes later, with Montreal’s net empty, creating havoc in front of Ward to no avail.

That’s the way it’s been going for Gallagher of late, and it’s hard to believe considering the consistency he’s shown throughout his entire hockey career.

We’re talking about a player who scored 77 goals in 259 NHL contests before this season got underway. He scored over 40 goals in each of his seasons with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants with the exception of his rookie season, in which he only managed 10 in 52 games.

Heck, you can even go back to his bantam days or review his international resume—this player has always found a way to get the job done.

Gallagher will find a way again. There’s no question about it. But if it takes much longer, it could spell more trouble for Montreal.

The surging Toronto Maple Leafs, who rank fifth in goals for and are coming off a 6-1 pasting of the Florida Panthers Thursday night, are waiting at Bell Centre for a Saturday night tilt with the Canadiens. They’ve won six of their last eight games, and it’s going to take Montreal’s best to stop them.

A goal from Gallagher would be a bonus.

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