MONTREAL – Guillaume Latendresse didn’t see the ice in Montreal’s previous overtime game. This time, he scored the game winner.
Latendresse drove to the net and tipped in a perfect pass from Maxim Lapierre 3:18 into the extra period to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the injury-riddled Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night. “It was important to get the win – I’m happy for that and I’m happy for Max to get an assist on a nice pass like that,” said Latendresse after his 12th goal of the season.
Saku Koivu ended an eight-game goalless drought while Patrice Brisebois and Andrei Markov also scored for Montreal (21-13-8), which has points in six straight games.
Coach Guy Carbonneau said he relied on instinct to send slow-footed left-winger Latendresse and checking centre Lapierre onto the ice. They had stayed on the bench as the Canadiens lost 5-4 in OT in their last game Saturday against Washington.
“Sometimes you make a decision and it works,” said Carbonneau. “They both had a good game for us and I had a feeling.
“We need Guillaume’s presence in front of the net. He had 16 goals last year and this year, he’s already got 12. And they all come from in front of the net. That’s where he needs to be.”
The Canadiens took five of six points in three straight games at home, where they have struggled this season.
The Blackhawks (19-19-4), who have seven players injured, including rookie phenom Jonathan Toews, are winless in their last six games.
Recent call-up Jack Skille scored his first NHL goal and got his first assist on Kris Versteeg’s second career goal for Chicago. Robert Lang also scored for the Blackhawks, who gave top defenceman Duncan Keith a heavy 34:14 of ice time.
“We’re young and we’re learning, but we keep fighting anyway,” said coach Denis Savard. “We turned the puck over too many times, especially when we had complete control.”
First-period goals have been a killer for Chicago of late and they gave up one 4:22 into the game when Blackhawks rookie Patrick Kane avoided a bodycheck and left the puck for Latendresse to feed Koivu alone in front for his eighth of the season.
Kane, the first overall pick in last summer’s draft, was largely invisible the rest of the game.
The 20-year-old Skille evened the score with a shot from the slot at 5:46 after some strong puck control in the Montreal zone.
He was disappointed later that no one thought to get him the puck as a keepsake.
“I’m just excited,” the American winger said. “I’m happy to get it off my back. I just hope my parents saw it.”
Brisebois, back after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury, scored on a long medium-speed shot through traffic on a power play at 17:13.
Lang scored on a harmless-looking shot from the left circle on a power play 2:27 into the second frame and Versteeg put Chicago ahead when he poked in Yanic Perreault’s rebound 17 seconds later.
Markov made it 3-3 on a power play at 8:04 on a bullet shot from the high slot.
It was Chicago’s first game in Montreal since Feb. 1, 2004.
In a pre-game ceremony, Hawks legends Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Eric Nestorenko joined former Canadiens like Henri Richard, Guy Lafleur and Ken Dryden along with others from both teams at centre ice to thunderous applause from the crowd.
A big hand went to Savard, who played for both teams during his Hall of Fame career.
“I was thinking about game more than anything else,” said Savard.
Notes: The Canadiens sent rookies Carey Price and Kyle Chipchura to AHL Hamilton and called up goalie Jaroslav Halak, who backed up Huet, and centre Corey Locke, who made his NHL debut. Locke was to have played last week in New York, but his equipment bag was lost by the airline that took him there and he was returned to Hamilton the next day. . . Pierre Gervais worked his 2,000th regular season game as Canadiens equipment manager. Gervais also has filled that role for Canadian Olympic and World Cup teams. . .Magnus Johansson, Troy Brouwer and David Koci were scratched for Chicago. . . Linesman Pierre Champoux had to go for repairs after taking a Francis Bouillon shoot-in off his face in the third period.