MONTREAL – As their injuries continue to mount, the Montreal Canadiens keep wracking up the points.
Marc-Andre Bergeron’s second of the night was the winner Tuesday as the Canadiens scored three times in the third period for a 5-3 comeback win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canadiens (12-11-1) were missing eight regulars to either injury or suspension, but have claimed seven out of a possible eight points over their last four games.
“I think we’ve seen the impact of the system over the past few games,” said Maxim Lapierre, whose insurance goal in the third put the game out of reach. “Even with all the guys we’re missing, the system doesn’t change.”
Mike Cammalleri and Glen Metropolit also scored for the Canadiens, but it was American Hockey League call-ups Ryan White and Tom Pyatt who turned in yet another solid performance in an energy role for the Canadiens. Meanwhile, Sergei Kostitsyn got an assist in his season debut after he was recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday.
“When I look at some of the young guys, they bring energy, they’re excited,” said Montreal coach Jacques Martin. “Kids like Pyatt and White are our second unit on penalty killing and Sergei is a smart player who I felt made some contributions.”
Antoine Vermette scored twice and Anton Stralman also had a goal for the Blue Jackets (12-8-3), who fell to 1-2-1 on their season-high five-game road trip.
Columbus netminder Mathieu Garon allowed all five goals on 29 shots. The Blue Jackets have allowed 16 goals on 110 shots over a three-game losing streak.
“We have not got good goaltending the last two nights, it has to be better,” said Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. “You can’t put in efforts like we did in the first and second periods tonight and then throw it away.
“We’ve thrown it away too many times, and that’s exactly what we did again.”
Carey Price made 33 saves for the Canadiens, including 25 through the first two periods to give his team a chance for just its second third-period comeback win of the season.
“The first half of the game our timing wasn’t there and we lacked intensity,” said Martin. “Our goalie allowed us to stay in the game.”
It was the first time in six starts that Price allowed three goals, but he still improved his record over that stretch to 4-1-1 with a .938 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average.
“It’s been a team effort, it’s not just me,” Price said. “Everybody’s been putting in the time and putting in the work.”
Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec had two assists and Andrei Kostitsyn had one as each of them extended their point streaks to four games. Rick Nash had two assists for Columbus to put an end to his only pointless streak of the season at two games.
The Blue Jackets lost 7-4 to the Rangers on Monday night and the Canadiens took advantage of a wearied opponent to erase a 3-2 deficit.
“That definitely had an impact in the third,” Lapierre said. “They were working hard to get the two points, but it became tough physically at a certain point.”
Metropolit got his fifth of the season at 2:18, jamming home a rebound off a Roman Hamrlik point shot to tie the game 3-3.
Bergeron gave the Canadiens the lead 4-3 at 4:56 after a wild scramble in front of the Columbus net, fanning on his shot but beating a down and out Garon for his fifth of the season.
Lapierre added the insurance goal moments after a huge stop by Price on Jakub Voracek maintained Montreal’s one-goal lead.
Lapierre kept the puck on a 2-on-1 and beat Garon with a wrist shot to the far post at 15:25 for his second of the year and a 5-3 Canadiens lead.
Hitchcock said his team needs to learn how to play with a lead late in games.
“We want to continue playing in a track meet, and we got burned.”
The Canadiens opened the scoring on Cammalleri’s team-leading 12th of the season at 5:50 of the first, but the lead lasted less than a minute as Nash made an incredible blind spin pass through the slot to Vermette for his fifth of the year at 6:36.
The lethal Blue Jackets power play made quick work of their first opportunity when Stralman scored his fourth of the season at 8:12.
Montreal tied it again at 9:30 of the second as Bergeron’s weak wrister from the point got tipped in front by Columbus defenceman Rostislav Klesla and beat Garon.
Montreal’s Travis Moen took a roughing penalty less than a minute later, going after Nash for a hit from behind that went unpunished and Columbus capitalized when Vermette beat Price with a low wrist shot to the far side at 11:46 to make it 3-2.
Notes: The Canadiens were without C Scott Gomez and D Jaroslav Spacek, both out with lower body injuries. It was Gomez’s second missed game with what is believed to be a groin injury, while it was Spacek’s first. They join injured Canadiens Andrei Markov (foot), Hal Gill (foot), Brian Gionta (foot), Matt D’Agostini (concussion) and newly-acquired Benoit Pouliot (wrist). … Georges Laraque served the first game of his five-game suspension for kneeing Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall on Saturday. The missing players represent US$26.1 million in salary, or 44 per cent on Montreal’s payroll. a Columbus D Marc Methot was a healthy scratch for the first time this season for Columbus, replaced by D Kris Russell. Tom Sestito was also scratched by the Blue Jackets. … Plekanec and Nash each had their eighth multi-point game of the year.