COLUMBUS, Ohio – The rookies were two of the coolest customers on the ice.
Derick Brassard scored Columbus’ second goal in the shootout and fellow rookie Steve Mason stayed perfect by stopping both shots he faced in the tiebreaker to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
Mason improved to 2-0 in his fledgling NHL career since being called up Nov. 4 as insurance for injured starter Pascal Leclaire. Mason beat Edmonton 5-4 on Wednesday night, then stopped 34 shots against the Canadiens, who came in with one of the hottest offences and best records in the league.
“It’s definitely pretty exciting,” he said. “Two wins in two games – I can’t complain about that.”
Brassard started the game leading all NHL rookies in points with 12 in 12 games. After Kristian Huselius opened the shootout with a goal, Brassard went second and scored. Mason stopped Alex Tanguay first and then blocked a shot by Andrei Kostitsyn to seal the win.
“Yeah, I knew which move I wanted to do,” Brassard said. “When I got the puck, I was going to make another move, then I said, ‘No, no, keep with the same move.”
He swooped in on goalie Jaroslav Halak and played with the puck, deking before sliding the puck past him for the score.
Mason had turned aside four attempts in a shootout in his first game while at AHL Syracuse earlier this season.
“It’s a lot of fun playing in shootouts, especially when you come out on the winning end,” he said. “Fortunately for us we scored on two great shots. For a goaltender, when your team is up 2-0, it definitely gives you confidence to make that last save.”
It was the first loss for the Canadiens in Ohio since a 2-1 setback against the Cleveland Barons on Nov. 23, 1977. The Habs had beaten the Blue Jackets in their only two previous trips.
Montreal’s Sergei Kostitsyn scored on a pass from his brother Andrei to tie it with 40.9 seconds left in regulation.
Alex Tanguay and Patrice Brisebois had power-play goals for the Canadiens, who lost for the first time on the road. Tomas Plekanec chipped in with two assists. Montreal, off since last Saturday, had won its last four road games and last three overall.
“We turned the puck over a few times in the neutral zone and they took advantage of it,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.
Montreal nemesis R.J. Umberger, Marc Methot and Fredrik Modin scored goals for Columbus – the latter two coming 34 seconds apart in the third period for a 3-2 lead. Jan Hejda and Rick Nash each had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have scored points in their last five games.
It was Umberger who lit up the Habs in the Eastern Conference semifinal a year ago while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. Umberger had eight goals and an assist, a plus-6 rating and put 20 shots on goal in the Flyers’ five-game victory.
After a scoreless second period, the Canadiens took a 2-1 lead early in the third on Brisebois’ blast through traffic from the right point.
Seconds after a giveaway that almost resulted in a Montreal goal, Methot potted the tying goal, taking a cross-ice pass from Nash and rocketing a hard shot inside the near post.
Modin then took a backdoor pass from Fedor Tyutin and jammed it in for a 3-2 lead before the late Montreal goal.
“We’ve been able to do that all year, bounce back in the third period to keep the wind in our sails,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s why we’re getting points every night now.”
Notes: Halak, who had 25 saves, got the start in goal for Montreal so the Canadiens could save Carey Price for a showdown in Toronto on Saturday night. … Columbus’ Jake Voracek had a goal disallowed in the first period for using a high stick.