The Montréal Canadiens looked to accomplish several things in their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. They looked to get their first three-game winning streak since the beginning of January, to win their first home game in six games, and to find a way to beat Columbus for the first time this season. They accomplished all three.
The rough stuff started early, as off a face off, Scott Hartnell slipped behind and tripped up Carey Price accidentally on purpose in the crease, drawing a crowd.
Columbus' forechecking was effective, applying good pressure in the offensive zone. However, they went too strongly at times, taking a penalty early. The Canadiens power play moved the puck well, generating a few good scoring chances from the point and a few more in tight on Sergei Bobrovsky.
Momentum from that man advantage paid off, as Nathan Beaulieu's attempt to battle for a loose puck drew another penalty against the Blue Jackets. The Canadiens came close to scoring on the second power-play chance immediately, but the referee blew the whistle prematurely as there was a scramble for the puck in the crease.
The Canadiens came out strong after the first intermission, spending close to two minutes with possession in the offensive zone. They soon doubled up the Blue Jackets in shots 14-7 five minutes into the second.
Alex Galchenyuk missed a glorious chance to put it in from the right faceoff circle, as he received a Brendan Gallagher pass as the two of them went towards the net. The one-time shot went over the net, thanks in part to Sam Gagner's backcheck.
The Canadiens continued to keep the pace in their play up, consistently carrying the puck into the offensive zone. Artturi Lehkonen almost broke his cold streak as he got a partial breakaway, but could not find a decent scoring angle.
Alexander Radulov did what he does best, holding onto the puck along the boards to find a good pass to make. Philip Danault eventually got the puck and passed it to Max Pacioretty who was open in between the dots, but his shot missed wide.
Gallagher took the puck in the offensive zone a shift later, passed it to Lehkonen who forced Bobrovsky to make a good save. After Alexei Emelin was tripped with no penalty call, the Blue Jackets went the other way, getting a good chance over an off-balance Price.
Kudos to Phillip Danault, who came back on the ice for his next shift after receiving a Shea Weber slap shot to the leg. He made a good defensive play to prevent a good scoring chance from reaching the net.
The Canadiens began the third with a full-length power play due to Radulov getting under Boone Jenner‘s skin enough at the end of the second to draw a slashing call. Starting from centre ice did them no favours, as they were unable to establish an offensive-zone presence.
Price had to make a huge stretch save with his toe, as Brandan Saad's shot deflected off a defender, going an opposite direction than where he intended to shoot. Price was already on his way to go to his right when he had to stretch to push the puck to the left of the ice.
Radulov nearly got a breakaway for a good chance to put the Canadiens up with the first goal of the game, but David Savard caught up to him to poke the puck harmlessly away. Pacioretty made a strong play to get Radulov the puck, though the Blue Jackets got away with a missed holding call.
The game's best scoring chance in regulation went to Pacioretty, who received a pass from Andrei Markov from the point to right at the doorstep, but Bobrovsky stretched all the way to the post to stop the shot.
The Canadiens fell victim for a second time to the referee's whistle, this time in overtime. Pacioretty tried to beat Bobrovsky through the five-hole as he found himself on a clear breakaway. Bobrovsky made the save, but was unable to freeze the puck. A mad scramble ensued, and the puck completely crossed the line. However, it seems that the referee intended to blow the whistle as he lost sight of the puck, and the call on the ice stood.
It became déjà vu for Galchenyuk and the Canadiens, as for the second night in a row, they would go on a power play in overtime. After struggling to maintain possession in the offensive zone, they got comfortable after a timeout. Galchenyuk was able to release a one-time slapshot from the point, ripping it past Bobrovsky for the 1-0 win.