MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens seem to just find a way when down by one goal late in a game.
With three seconds remaining, Cole Caufield netted a one-timer to force overtime followed by Nick Suzuki confirming Montreal’s 5-4 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Flyers with a game-winning goal in the shootout.
“I feel like we've had some practice with that a little bit last year and this year, so it's something we obviously work on in practice and talk about,” Caufield said about playing with the extra attacker. “But in those situations, you just have to make reads and hope for the best.”
Caufield scored twice, including the game-tying marker for Montreal (9-8-1). Christian Dvorak and Mike Matheson added the others.
Jake Allen stopped 25-of-29 shots in regulation and overtime for the Canadiens.
"It doesn’t matter if we’re down a couple of goals, we believe that we can win every game,” said Montreal defenceman Joel Edmunsson. “We have a scoring offence and when we get in the offensive zone, good things happen and we can create a lot of chances. So we know we can score on will, we just have to keep the puck out of our net more often.”
Saturday night’s game brought a special feeling to Habs coach Martin St. Louis. The Hall of Famer matched up against former Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella in his new role as Habs bench boss.
“I support him, he’s been a big supporter of mine and it was special to be behind the bench against him tonight,” St. Louis said. “I’m sure he’s happy about how his team played tonight and like he told me, his team works hard. They’re not easy to play against.
“He’s probably walking away from this game thinking he deserves a bit more but I don’t feel bad about it.”
Owen Tippett, with two goals, Travis Sanheim and Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia (7-7-4) which is in the midst of a six-game losing skid. Zack MacEwan recorded two assists and Carter Hart made 28 saves.
“I thought we played hard. I thought we had a ton of good hockey, we just don’t know how to manage a game,” Tortorella said. “We have so much to learn in momentum. Total panic with the puck when we were trying to end the game.”
The Flyers took control with two early goals. Scott Laughton followed a missed shot from the slot with a backhand pass to Sanheim who broke the ice 39 seconds into the game.
Philadelphia doubled its lead at 2:55 of the first period when Tippett carried the puck from his own zone and beat Allen glove side with a wrist shot.
After Brendan Gallagher blocked teammate Arber Xhekaj’s shot from the point, Dvorak zoomed forward to tap the puck in and score his fourth of the season at 4:07 for Montreal.
Minutes later, Canadiens centre Sean Monahan pushed the puck past the goal line from inside Hart’s crease, only for it to be called a no-goal. After a review, the initial decision was reversed before being by Tortorella for goaltender interference. Philadelphia won the challenge and the play was overturned once again.
The Habs got their goal back on a five-on-three power play at 17:49 of the first. Caufield’s slapshot, aided by a Suzuki screen, beat Hart and levelled the score.
Matheson gave Montreal its first lead of the night 11:55 into the second period when he accepted a Suzuki backhand pass and beat Hart from the slot.
Tippett shocked Allen by shooting off the faceoff and tied the game at 3-3 just under four minutes later.
Hayes found the Flyers’ go-ahead goal when he grabbed the puck following a blocked shot and scored from atop the left face-off circle 8:17 into the third.
Montreal pulled Allen from the net for an extra attacker and Caufield found the tying goal on a one-timer with three seconds remaining in regulation.
After a scoreless overtime, Suzuki was the lone player to score in the shootout, sealing the win for the Canadiens.
NOTE: Laughton left the game early in the third period after getting checked into the boards by Kaiden Guhle and hitting the ice awkwardly.
Defenceman Mike Matheson finally played his first game in a Canadiens uniform. The 28-year-old from Pointe-Claire, Que. missed the first 17 games of the season with an abdominal sprain.
Matheson awkwardly started his official homecoming. The blueliner’s first two shifts were during both Philadelphia's first period goals but redeemed himself by opening his account in the second period.
“The ability to kind of leave each shift in the past and focus on the next one is really important,” Matheson said. “It felt great to get that goal but I think I'd move past the first two shifts.
“I don't think either goal was, you know, it's not like I put a pizza up in the middle and you could say, ‘wow, that was your fault.’ Regardless of the fact that it was my fault or not, I think I'd put it in the past and was moved on by then.”
HAYES' POINT STREAK
With his goal, Kevin Hayes has recorded at least one point in five consecutive games. In total, Hayed picked up six points (three goals, three assists) during the streak.
The Canadiens will host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
The Flyers will return home to welcome the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2022
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press