MONTREAL – It was a matter of time before the puck started going in for Montreal Canadiens sniper Mike Cammalleri.
Cammalleri’s third goal of the game in overtime lifted the Canadiens to a comeback 5-4 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night, giving Montreal (5-5-0) it’s third straight victory.
The former Calgary Flame did not score in his first six games after signing as a free agent, but has five in his last four contests and leads the team with 11 points in 10 games.
“When the puck wasn’t going in it was frustrating,” Cammalleri said. “I felt that if I’d got some, we could have got some wins, so it’s good that they’re going in now.”
Cammalleri put a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist 2:42 in the extra period for his third career hat-trick.
The Richmond Hill, Ont., native scored his second goal of the game late in the second period as Montreal tallied three times in the middle period to tie it at 4-4.
“It’s a special night,” he said. “It’s early in my career with Montreal and it was a Saturday night – I won’t underplay that.”
Matt D’Agostini and Marc-Andre Bergeron also scored for Montreal while Jaroslav Halak made it three wins in three straight starts.
Artem Anisimov, Ales Kotalik, Matt Gilroy and Marian Gaborik, with his eighth of the season, scored for the Rangers (7-3-1), who were coming off a pair of losses after winning seven in a row.
Montreal outshot the Rangers 31-27, including 3-1 in overtime.
Coach John Tortorella was not pleased to see his Rangers blow a two-goal lead, and benched centre Brandon Dubinsky and winger Chris Higgins for the entire third period. Higgins, who has only two assists in 11 games, was playing his first game in Montreal since he was traded to the Rangers on June 30
“There was a turnover by Dubinsky in the neutral zone and we can’t have that,” said Tortorella. “It was a huge momentum swing.
“Higgins is a guy we’ve been patient with and there was a penalty (which gave Montreal a two-man advantage in the second) and then the backcheck on (Cammalleri’s second goal). If you aren’t producing offensively, then you’ve got to do other things. We’re going to go with the guys who do things to help us win.”
Scott Gomez had two assists for Montreal as he and defenceman Paul Mara played their first game against the Rangers since they were acquired by the Canadiens last summer.
Gomez’s line with Camalleri and another new signing, Brian Gionta, was on fire for the Canadiens in a wildly entertaining game with repeated momentum changes for the sell-out crowd of 21,273.
Coach Jacques Martin also praised the fourth line of D’Agostini, Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Chipchura, who had numerous chances.
The Canadiens came out strong and Cammalleri got his first on a feed off a rush with Gionta and Gomez 4:16 into the game.
A Bergeron giveaway allowed Anisimov to score on the rebound of Michal Rozsival’s point shot at 9:22 and another turnover saw Sean Avery feed Kotalik for his fifth of the season at 14:42. The rookie Gilroy made it 3-1 at 19:02 on a shot from the right point that beat the screened Halak.
D’Agostini striped the puck from Dubinsky at the red line and finished a 2-on-1 with Maxim Lapierre 8:48 into the middle period.
Then Gaborik scored a beauty, reaching behind himself to tip a pass forward and send himself in on a breakaway and slide the puck under fellow Slovak Halak.
Higgins’ high-sticking penalty gave Montreal a two-man advantage and Bergeron used his big shot to score his second goal in only three games since joining the Canadiens.
Then Camalleri beat Henrik Lundqvist with a high shot on a rush at 18:58 to tie it.
“When you have a game going your way, you don’t beat yourself and that’s what we did,” said Tortorella.
Notes: The Rangers went 0-for-2 on the power play, ending an eight-game streak with at least one with the man advantage.. . The Canadiens end a six-game homestand against the New York Islanders on Monday night, when the Rangers return home to face Phoenix.. . Each teams sat out its enforcer – New York’s Donald Brashear and Montreal’s Georges Laraque.