MONTREAL — The Bell Centre fans were urging Brendan Gallagher to complete his hat trick after scoring two quick goals in the opening period.
And that's exactly what the diminutive winger did, notching his first career three-goal game in a convincing 5-1 victory for the Montreal Canadiens over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
"The fans were giving it to me too," said a grinning Gallagher, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals this season. "I was sitting in the (penalty) box and there was some guy yelling at me to get it done. So I feel like I made him happy. But it was a nice feeling for sure."
Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tomas Tatar also scored for the Canadiens (33-21-7), who have won two games in a row since dropping four straight.
Carey Price stopped 29 shots for his 25th victory of the season. Price is three wins away from tying Jacques Plante as the winningest goaltender in Canadiens history with 314.
Gallagher wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, netting his first just 58 seconds into the encounter with a wrist shot from the edge of the face-off circle — Montreal's league-high sixth goal in a game's opening minute (tied with the Carolina Hurricanes).
After Kotkaniemi made it 2-0 on Montreal's second shot of the game at 3:11, Gallagher chased the 20-year-old Carter Hart from the game at 10:33 with a shot from an impossible angle, along the goal line from the corner of the rink.
"I always play my post like that, skate on the post," said Hart, who gave up three goals on nine shots for the second consecutive game. "That never happens. That's the first time I've been beat like that. That's a one in a hundred shot right there."
Hart was also pulled at 10:23 of Philadelphia's last game after conceding three goals on nine shots in a 5-2 loss at home to Tampa Bay.
"He'll be good," said captain Claude Giroux of Hart. "He’s a great goalie. And maybe he wants one of those back, but it happens."
Brian Elliott fared better for the Flyers (28-26-7) but he couldn't slow Gallagher or Montreal down. Elliott stopped 29-of-31 shots in relief.
Gallagher completed his hat trick 2:56 into the second period with a back-handed shot, top corner, with his back to the net for his first three-goal game in 467 NHL matches.
The Montreal forward had scored two goals in 10 regular-season games in his career but he had never managed to get the elusive third.
"I was surprised it was Gally's first (hat trick)," said Tatar, who reached the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his career. "He's a pure goal scorer. I always saw him score when I was in Detroit. He scored a lot of goals against us. Obviously it's a memorable thing. He worked really hard tonight."
Phillip Danault, who had an assist on Gallagher's first goal for a career-high 41 points added: "Gally reaps what he sows. He works so hard every single night. He got some good bounces tonight. But he works so hard for that puck."
Tatar added insult to injury at 6:48 of the second with a top-shelf wrist shot on a clever no-look pass from Max Domi behind the net. With the assist, Domi set a career high with 53 points.
"We're playing fast, and when you play fast, there's nothing harder to defend when you're facing speed," said coach Claude Julien. "Our transition game has been pretty good. That's been pretty helpful for our team this year."
Michael Raffl scored a consolation goal for the Flyers in the third period by deflecting Shayne Gostisbehere's shot past Price at 10:23.
The Flyers have dropped two straight after winning three in a row.
Notes: Montreal plays seven of its next eight games away from home. … The Flyers had not lost on the road since Jan. 12. … UFC legend Georges St-Pierre was honoured at the Bell Centre after announcing his retirement.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press