MONTREAL — Despite scoring an early goal in the first half, the Montreal Canadiens had to dig deep and play catch-up hockey on Saturday night to earn a third straight win.
But for Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis, “don’t give up” is becoming a pattern.
Mike Hoffman scored 63 seconds after overtime as the Canadiens completed the comeback with a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Not just in some games, we don’t give up in every single game,” St. Louis said. “We didn’t win tonight but we played a good game, kept doing what we’re doing and kept believing that the way we play will get us where we want to be.”
Sean Monahan’s power-play goal at 14:42 in the third period leveled the game for Montreal and forced overtime.
“It just shows the character that this group is starting to have, and it’s a good thing to be a part of,” Hoffman said.
Nick Suzuki scored and added an assist. Josh Anderson and Cole Caufield also scored for Montreal. Jake Allen conceded four goals and made 19 saves.
The Canadiens (8-6-1) also have at least a point in four of their last five games. Their only regular loss in that stretch came on November 5 against the Vegas Golden Knights, who lead the Pacific Division.
“The results don’t bother us,” St. Louis said. “We don’t have a ranking list and we don’t look at it either, we just come.”
Rickard Rakell and Jeff Petry each recorded a goal and an assist, while Evgeni Malkin and Brock McGinn added more goals for the Penguins (6-7-2). Jason Zucker contributed three assists. Tristan Jarry conceded five goals and made 36 saves. In their three-game road trip, the Penguins earned five out of six points.
“If you get five out of six points away from home in three games, most coaches would probably take that,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “But when it comes to getting six, it’s a bit disappointing.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game for us. Logistically, it’s one of those games where you know it’s going to be difficult. Give Montreal credit, they played really well.
Montreal took the lead with 1:48 of the first period. Anderson got the space he needed in the high slot to hit Jarry with a wristshot.
After a slow first period, the Penguins went into the second frame with a bang. Rakell found Petry in front of the net and the blue liner scored his first goal against his former team.
Rakell then tapped Marcus Petterson’s shot from the point to give the Penguins their first lead of the game less than two minutes later.
Both teams exploded with five goals in the third period. Montreal equalized 49 seconds into the third period when Caufield’s shot from the point sped through Kirby Dach and Petterson to defeat Jarry. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan challenged the goal for goaltender interference, but the goal stood.
Pittsburgh quickly regained their lead as Malkin defeated Allen unaided.
But the Habs leveled the game again when Dach and Suzuki tied in front of Jarry’s net and the captain cracked double figures with his 10th goal of the season. Suzuki previously confirmed the feat from his sniper linemate Caufield.
“It looks like they’re fighting for it right now,” Anderson said of the race for Montreal’s top scorer between the two teammates. “It’s good competition, it’s healthy.”
The Penguins reclaimed the lead for the third time when Jeff Carter found McGinn on a two-for-one chance.
Pittsburgh’s lead was short-lived once again as Monahan jumped on Jarry’s rebound in the crease during a four-on-three power play to level the game 4-4.
The Canadians sealed the win in overtime when Dach located Hoffman, who defeated Jarry.
SUZUKI ON FIRE
Nick Suzuki doesn’t feel the pressure of being the Canadians’ newest captain. The 23-year-old continued his hot start, recording 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his last seven games.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” said Suzuki. “It’s great fun to be with this group, our coaching staff is great. We just love to come out on the rink and see each other and hang out and we play really good hockey. The whole team is really relaxed at the moment and we enjoy winning.”
St. Louis added that the Montreal coaching staff couldn’t be happier with their decision to name Suzuki as the team’s captain.
“I’m very impressed but not surprised,” St. Louis said. “Every action he takes, his behavior, he validates the decision we made.”
The Canadiens play the New Jersey Devils at home on Tuesday.
The Penguins return to Pittsburgh and host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 12, 2022.
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