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Canadiens ride last-minute goal to shootout victory over the Jackets

Canadiens ride last-minute goal to shootout victory over the Jackets
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The Canadiens succeeded on both counts as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on a shootout winner by Jonathan Drouin Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

The overtime came after a dramatic finish in regulation. Columbus defenceman Zach Werenski scored with 1:53 to play in the third period to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead, but the Canadiens pulled Carey Price and Tomas Tatar scored in the final minute after a terrific feed from rookie Nick Suzuki.

There was more drama in the overtime as Montreal killed off a 4-on-3 Columbus power play after Victor Mete hooked Cam Atkinson.

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price deflects the shot of Blue Jackets’ Boone Jenner past the net during first-period action at the Bell Centre Tuesday night. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

After being outplayed for the first 40 minutes, the Canadiens came out strong in the third period and were a high stick away from drawing even at 1:55. Max Domi deflected a high shot from Brett Kulak, but referee Kyle Rehman didn’t hesitate to wave off the score because it was the result of a high stick.

But Brendan Gallagher scored the equalizer at 3:27 with an atypical effort for the feisty winger. Most of Gallagher’s goals are scored in the dirty areas around the net, but he was crossing the blue line when he unleashed a shot that went through the pads of rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.

The Blue Jackets played a near-perfect road game as they used a strong forecheck to disrupt the Canadiens’ flow and repeatedly dumping the puck out of the zone after Montreal shots.

The Blue Jackets outshot the Canadiens 15-11 in the first period, but the numbers didn’t tell the whole story.

Columbus also enjoyed a wide edge in the quality of the shots. The Canadiens seldom had more than one shot on goal and made life easy for rookie Merzlikins. At the other end of the ice, Carey Price was forced to make half-a-dozen saves from close range.

Montreal was short-handed twice when Shea Weber took a pair of penalties early in the period and the Blue Jackets managed seven shots on goal while playing with  the advantage. Columbus was unable to score on the power play, but broke through for a 1-0 lead when Eric Robinson was given some breathing room in the slot and he converted a pass from Emil Bemstrom. Robinson was making his first appearance this season and the goal was his first in the NHL.

The Canadiens had the only two power plays in the second period, but they were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. They had three shots on goal, but weren’t in a position for rebounds and spent most of the time chasing the puck down the ice.

The penalty kill has produced some good results over the past week. The Blue Jackets went 0-for-3 and Montreal has allowed only one goal in 10 opportunities over the past three games. The PK is still a long way from respectability, but it has shown some improvement.
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