When David Desharnais' pretty deke drew Cam Ward from his net opening up Brandon Prust for the first goal of the game, I got the feeling David was going to have a good game. Apart from a soft play on Carolina's only goal scorer of the night, Victor Rask, he did.
But it was Alex Galchenyuk who stole the show with his first career hat-trick to sink the Hurricanes in a 4-1 win. Playing only 14 minutes, four less than the aforementioned Desharnais, Galchenyuk proved why he is the franchise's future-and arguably present-at the center position.
For all the times that we've heard that Max Pacioretty and Desharnais are inseparable, look no further than the three assists Pacioretty racked up on #27's goals. Both forwards can put the puck in the net which makes them a difficult duo to contain. Toss in the hardworking play from Brendan Gallagher and what you have one of the best first lines in the league blossoming in Montreal.
Given Therrien's line juggling tendencies, it's unlikely we've seen the end of a Pacioretty-Desharnais partnership this season. But don't expect it anytime soon. Since the Canadiens' new number one line was assembled the team has three straight wins and outscored opponents 13-4.
The pressure is on Desharnais to reinvent himself and find a new niche among the team's top nine forwards. Whether or not he sees spot duty back on the top line again, the writing is on the wall. Galchenyuk is making the most of his opportunities at center and Desharnais' time is running out.
The situation will be complicated by Lars Eller's return in about a week's time. I wouldn't be surprised to see Galchenyuk slotted back to Plekanec's wing, at least temporarily. But why break up a good thing? Chemistry is brewing between two highly skilled offensive players. Let them play!
The best case scenario would see Desharnais shifted over the wing where he's had some success earlier in his career. If a diminutive rookie of Sven Andrighetto's stature can put up three points in four games, why can't Desharnais find success there? Alas, I digress...
To Carolina's credit, they came into the Bell Centre and played a decent road game. Carey Price stood tall, as usual, turning aside 25 of the 26 shots he faced. You have to feel bad that he didn't notch the shutout. Price made the initial save but Rask was able to power through Desharnais to poke the puck in over the line 6:47 into the third period.
Fortunately Montreal was able to stave off the comeback and hold on for their 20th win of the season. With only two points separating the top four teams in the Canadiens' division, you get the feeling one bad slump could have your team dogging it for a Wild Card position.
The Habs next two games are at home, including the next one against the Anaheim Ducks on Saku Koivu night. The former Captain will be honored before the game in which the only two NHL teams he ever played for face off.
Finally, I encourage you to check out Galchenyuk's hat-trick in its entirety right here!