Brendan Gallagher‘s status for the Montreal Canadiens is unclear for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBSCN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NBCSP).
The Canadiens forward was cut in the mouth with 5:08 left in the third period of Montreal’s 5-3 win in Game 5 on Wednesday when he was struck by the high stick of Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen during a puck battle. He finished the game.
The Canadiens trail the best-of-7 series, and associate coach Kirk Muller said Thursday that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the forward play with Montreal facing elimination.
“Well, you know how tough he is, so I would never count him out,” Muller said. “We saw how he had probably the most impact to that game last night. The way he came out in that first shift, how hard he played … He’s the heartbeat of our team. You never count him out because of the character he has.”
Muller, who is filling in for Claude Julien after the Canadiens coach had a heart procedure one week ago, said that as far as he knew Gallagher did not have to leave the bubble in Toronto, the hub city for the East, to get treatment.
“Truthfully, we’re still waiting for feedback medically, so I really don’t have the news yet,” Muller said.
Gallagher, who tied Tomas Tatar for the Canadiens lead with 22 goals this season, scored his first goal of the postseason in Game 5, giving Montreal a 3-2 lead at 11:30 of the second period.
He played 18:02, which was third among Canadiens forwards, finishing with three shots and three hits.
“That’s the Gally we love,” Muller said after the game. “That’s what he can bring to a team. He brought the guys into the fight tonight. He’s a competitor, he’s a proud player, he works for every goal he gets, and I thought he had an exceptional game tonight.”
Defenseman Ben Chariot said the Canadiens get a spark when Gallagher is in the lineup.
“He’s been a heart-and-soul guy for this team for a long time,” Chiarot said. “He leads the way with his work ethic and how determined he is, and that definitely sets the tone for our team. (If) a guy like that is going to be going that hard, everybody else better match that intensity.”
Niskanen, who wasn’t penalized on the play, was scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday.