It wasn’t a full house but more than 17,000 people flocked to the Bell Centre Thursday evening for a two-period intra-squad Canadiens game that was capped off with a lengthy shootout.
Many fans got a huge surprise when they walked into the Bell Centre at 5 p.m. and discovered that Canadiens players were stationed at two entrances to greet them. Out came the cameras, as excited fans snapped pictures of players and shook hands with them. The free intra-squad game is part of the Canadiens bid to make amends to fans for the NHL lockout.
There were loud cheers during the scrimmage for Montreal native Francis Bouillon, who the Canadiens signed to a one-year deal last summer.
And a “We want P.K!” chant rang out during the game.
The Canadiens defenceman, who is a restricted free agent, remains unsigned and is not at the Canadiens training camp.
Subban, who learned of the chant from The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs, replied with a text message saying: “Thank you! I miss you guys! I truly love the fans and I think we have a great connection. Fans recognize fans! I know what the fans want to see and that’s heart and soul on every play. I think that’s where we get along. I love Montreal fans, they’re a big reason why I love putting on the sweater every game.”
The game ended in a 3-3 tie and the players went 20 rounds in the shootout until forward Brandon Prust beat Peter Budaj. Galchenyuk scored in round one to the delight of the Bell Centre crowd with Gallagher matching it in round two. The only other goals came in the 16th round when Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov traded goals.
Therrien said he liked what he saw in the scrimmage. When asked about the performance of the young players, Therrien had praise for Hamilton Bulldogs forward Brendan Gallagher –“he’s a guy who works extremely hard”– Alex Galchenyuk, the Habs first-round draft pick with the Sarnia Sting, and Bulldogs defenceman Jarred Tinordi. Of the Bulldogs players called up for Thursday’s game, Therrien mentioned Mike Blunden’s good play.
You can hear Galchenyuk talk about his Bell Centre experience below:
You can hear what Carey Price had to say after the scrimmage below:
You can listen to Francis Bouillon below:
And you can hear Colby Armstrong below:
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)