The Canadiens have certainly been entertaining to watch this season — even with all their mistakes.
For the second straight game at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens fought back from a 3-1 deficit Saturday night to beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in a shootout with captain Nick Suzuki scoring the winner. On Thursday, Cole Caufield scored in overtime as the Canadiens beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3.
The Canadiens got goals from Justin Barron, Sean Monahan (power play) and Joel Armia in regulation time Saturday as they improved their record to 5-2-1. It was Armia’s first game with the Canadiens this season after being demoted to the AHL’s Laval Rocket. Adam Lowry scored twice for the Jets (including one on a penalty shot in the first period), while Nino Niederreiter added a single.
The Canadiens were outshot 18-6 in the first period, but went into the intermission tied 1-1 thanks to goalie Jake Allen. Things got ugly quick in the second period as the Jets scored twice in the first 33 seconds because of mistakes in the defensive zone.
“It could have been just as easy to quit after the two quick goals there in the second period and put our heads down and go the other way,” Allen said. “It wasn’t pretty in the second period, but we got ourself back to one (goal down). I thought that was a victory to get back to 3-2 by the end of the second.
“You got 20 minutes in your home barn where you can get momentum and you can build some confidence and that happened the last two nights here and find ways to win games. You’re not going to win all the time in overtime or shootouts, but luck’s been on our side right now and kudos to the guys.”
The Jets outshot the Canadiens 45-29 as Allen improved his record to 3-0-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage after stopping all three shots in the shootout.
Defenceman Kaiden Guhle also played a big role in the victory after missing the previous four games with an upper-body injury. The 21-year-old logged a team-high 25:08 of ice time, picked up two assists and had a plus-2 differential, along with four shots and three blocked shots.
The Canadiens had to play the third period without defenceman Mike Matheson, who suffered a lower-body injury. After the game, the Canadiens said Matheson’s injury wasn’t serious, that he was listed as day-to-day and that he would travel with the team to Las Vegas on Sunday morning. The Canadiens will start a three-game road trip Monday against the Golden Knights (10 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
When Allen was asked what he appreciates most about Guhle, he said: “That he’s on my team.”
The goalie then added: “First off, I think he’s a really good kid. I think that’s super important here. Second-off, he showed tonight after being out for a few games there that he looks like a 10-year vet.”
With David Savard out 6-8 weeks with a fractured hand and Matheson also injured now, the Canadiens will be counting heavily on Guhle. They’ll also be counting heavily on Monahan with Kirby Dach out for the season with a knee injury.
The Canadiens were 12-11-2 after 25 games last season when they lost Monahan for the year with a broken foot, followed by a groin injury that required surgery. Things started to fall apart without him.
Monahan has 4-3-7 totals this season and is tied with Caufield for the team lead in goals.
“To me, he’s a hockey player … he’s not someone who just plays hockey,” head coach Martin St. Louis said about Monahan. “He plays the game. Sometimes it’s taking a hit to make a play. Sometimes it’s managing the risk … scoring a big goal. He’s a guy that we lean on.”
Allen also had high praise for Monahan.
“I know his injuries have been his curse in the last few years,” the goalie said. “But I played against him a ton in the league when he was with the Flames and he was a helluva hockey player there.
“He’s quiet, he comes to the rink every day, does his job,” Allen added. “To have a veteran centreman who has played a lot of games in this league it’s really important. A guy that can win draws … he’s been exceptional this year from my perspective on draws. He fills the void in front of the net. He does what it takes for the team and he fits in with group really well. He’s an older guy that’s been in the league. With this group he jells very well and I think that’s a big reason why he wanted to come back.”
Allen is happy to have Guhle back in the lineup now.
“I felt good,” Guhle said. “I got a week-and-a half rest. I had lots of legs, lungs felt good. It’s so fun playing in this building in front of these fans. It’s pretty tough to not be getting up for these games, especially on a Saturday night.
“It was fun … the game was a lot of fun tonight.”
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