Laine scores twice in Blue Jackets’ 6-3 win over Canadiens
MONTREAL (AP) — Patrik Laine scored twice and Joonas Korpisalo made 32 saves in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 6-3 win over the NHL-worst Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.
Jack Roslovic, Eric Robinson, Yegor Chinakhov and 18-year-old Cole Sillinger added goals for the Blue Jackets, which recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 26. Gustav Nyquist had two assists.
Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said it “was a little bit of a scary game,” especially coming off of a 7-2 loss against the Oilers.
“The focus was on us and getting a good start. They got the early one but then from there I think we had a really good first period,” he said. “Some good forecheck and obviously we were finishing, which is great.”
Artturi Lehkonen had a goal and two assists for the Canadiens, while Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist.
Montreal coach Dominque Ducharme pulled his starting goaltender — this time Samuel Montembeault — for the third straight game. Montembeault gave up three goals on seven shots, and Cayden Primeau made 26 saves in relief.
“At the end of the day, I have to go with the game that’s in front of me,” Ducharme said about pulling his goalies. “Our goalies are part of the solution so they can bring energy in a way that’s different from the players in front of them. Everyone needs to do their job.”
Montreal remained last in the standings as the team enters its All-Star break. The league-worst Canadiens have dropped six games in a row, conceding 33 goals over that stretch.
“We obviously would’ve liked to end on a different note but it will be good to have some time,” Ducharme said. “Maybe we’ll have players back after the break. We’ll see, but that can be a positive.”
Montreal opened the scoring 1:19 into the first period when Suzuki grabbed his own rebound and used Nyquist’s skate to ricochet the puck into the net.
The Blue Jackets responded with four unanswered goals in the game’s opening 13:14 — a franchise record.
Laine tied the game up at 3:51 using Alexander Romanov as a screen to notch a swift wrist shot from the face-off circle. Roslovic then surprised Montembeault at 8:39 with a top-corner shot, giving Columbus its first lead of the night.
Ducharme pulled Montembeault after the Jackets scored their third of the night, shorthanded. Robinson found himself on a breakaway and easily connected for his sixth of the season.
Columbus finished its productive first period when Chinakhov zoomed past Cale Klague and beat Primeau with his fifth goal of the year.
Montreal cut the deficit to two goals with 41 seconds to go in the second period. Lehkonen found Toffoli on a one-timer to give the Habs a fighting chance at a comeback.
Lehkonen wasn’t done there and grabbed a short-handed goal of his own 6:55 into the third. The Finn tapped in a saucer pass from Jake Evans to bring the Habs one goal away.
Sillinger shifted momentum back on Columbus with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 9:58 of the third before Laine added an empty-netter.
PRICE WANTS TO STAY
Montreal star goalie Carey Price wants to stay with the Canadiens. Price, still recovering from knee surgery after Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, has not played yet this season. The 34-year-old skated in full equipment Saturday and Sunday. Price says the next few weeks will most probably “determine the rest of my season.”
Speaking to reporters Sunday for the first time since the Canadiens lost Game 5 of the Cup final to Tampa Bay, he said there have been “unforeseen setbacks” as he’s worked his way back from off-season knee surgery, and while the process has been frustrating, he’s continuing to move forward.
“Being a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens has been my life for over a decade,” Price said. “Ending the season on such a disappointing note last year, I just want to be able to get back in there, continue playing and to be able to put that sweater on again. It’s something that’s keeping me motivated at this point.”
Price added that he was “tremendously grateful” for the outpour of support from the hockey world and fans following his decision to voluntarily enter the NHL’s player assistance program for substance abuse. That decision to enter the program forced Price to pause injury rehabilitation.
Blue Jackets: Host Florida on Monday night in the final game before the All-Star break.
Canadiens: Host New Jersey on Feb. 8 to continue a stretch of eight straight at home.
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