In the dying minutes of Montreal’s 5-3 win in Wednesday’s Game 5, the one that reduced his series deficit to 3-2, Brendan Gallagher received a cross-check from Matt Niskanen that left the striker behind. Canadians bleed from the mouth, with at least one dented tooth. and, subject to further testing, a possible fracture of his jaw.
Gallagher would have a CT scan later on Thursday to assess the damage, but no medical evaluation will be needed to assess what it would mean for the Canadiens’ prospects if he’s not available to play in Game 6 on Friday.
“He has been a man of heart and soul for this team for a long time,” Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot said Thursday morning. “He leads the way with his work ethic and determination, which definitely sets the tone for our team. If a guy like this goes that hard, everyone better match that intensity.
If Gallagher were to leave the NHL bubble for further testing, he would be subject to a mandatory quarantine upon his return. The duration will depend on the length of his absence and his level of exposure to COVID-19, but, depending on the protocols, that would likely mean having a negative test for the virus for four consecutive days before being allowed to join his teammates. .
What a blow to the chances of Montreal in this series. Gallagher played a central role in Wednesday’s win with a first change of tone, his first playoff goal and a total overall performance.
As to what it would mean for the Flyers if Niskanen were suspended following a hearing with the NHL Player Safety Department, Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault appeared confident Thursday that he did not. will not have to consider this.
He also considered the shot to be “a game of hockey”.
“Let’s see what happens this afternoon,” Vigneault said of the Niskanen hearing. “In my opinion, Gallagher got up and looked fine. He was talking to the referees, and the whole time he was on the bench he was talking to our players for the rest of the game. Gallagher is a very competitive player, but I don’t think it’s Nisky’s fault that maybe he isn’t as tall as some of the other guys, but he’s as big, if not bigger, than anyone else. It looked like a hockey game which unfortunately cut him off a bit.
Canadians did not see it that way.
– Montreal Canadiens (@CanadiensMTL) August 20, 2020
Interim head coach Kirk Muller said he sent a video to the league that should clearly reveal it was a predatory shot, and Chiarot, who plays on the edge and is known to wield his stick of the same way, said he knew what he saw of Niskanen on the play.
“It looks like a cross check straight on the face, that’s about how I saw it,” Chiarot said. “An unsuspecting guy; Gally is in the corner fighting for the puck, turns around and takes a bite of Niskanen’s stick. This is how I saw it.
It was one of many unpleasant plays in Game 5, the one that took place some 35 minutes after Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi was given a major penalty and sent off for a free kick on Flyers defender Travis Sanheim. .
Sources have confirmed to Sportsnet that Kotkaniemi will not face another discipline.
The Flyers will not attack Sean Couturier for this success on Artturi Lehkonen either:
“There is no doubt that there is no love between the two teams,” said Vigneault. “Both teams want to win, very competitive. The hit on Travis… it was an upward hit to the head that cut him off. The shot [from Couturier on Lehkonen] at the end of the game – sometimes the boys will be boys. But Nisky’s shot… his angle doesn’t change, it’s just a game of hockey.
It’s a game that could leave the Canadiens without one of their most important players, although Vigneault has said he expects to see Gallagher in action in Game 6.
If the 28-year-old was not eligible to participate, his next best option on the right wing would be Joel Armia, who scored two goals in Game 5 and had a huge impact on the result.
“Joel is a guy who’s so good with the puck,” said Canadiens forward Charles Hudon, who made his Stanley Cup playoff debut on Wednesday. “On his second goal, he entered the zone with someone draped over his shoulders. It’s very difficult to get him out of the puck, even in practice. So he brings a lot of offense, and he’s not responsible in the defensive zone either. He’s a good player for our team and he’s showing good things in every game.
Muller said the Canadians would wait for more medical comment on Gallagher’s status before considering any necessary adjustments in his absence.
“I would never count it,” he added. “We saw how he probably had the most impact in that game last night, the way he came out in the first shift, the character of this guy and how well he played. He’s the heartbeat of our team, so I don’t think you can wonder if he would be in line based on his medical situation. You never count him, because of the character he has.