MONTREAL – Alex Tanguay found a perfect way to get in the good books with his new Montreal teammates, and he helped the Canadiens open the home schedule of their 100th season with a win in the process.
Tanguay scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Canadiens a 4-3 win Wednesday night after they allowed the Boston Bruins to come back from a three-goal deficit.
“It was good timing,” said Tanguay, who came over from the Calgary Flames in a draft-day trade. “I’m still nervous, still trying to find my way on the team, trying to get in the groove. But that will come with time, I’m usually a guy who has slow starts.”
Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Maxim Lapierre scored in a span of just over three minutes in the first period for the Canadiens (3-0-1), who registered their 12th straight regular season victory over their Original Six rivals.
Marc Savard scored twice, including the equalizer with 48 seconds left in regulation, and David Krejci added a goal and an assist for the Bruins (1-1-1).
Tanguay was the second shooter for the Canadiens and beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot high on the glove side.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who made 31 saves in regulation and overtime, stopped former teammate Michael Ryder with a pad save on the final shot to secure the win for Montreal.
“He’s a good friend of ours,” Price said of Ryder. “But on the ice, there are no friends.”
The Canadiens held a half-hour ceremony prior to the game to inaugurate the new Ring of Honour, which commemorates the franchise’s 54 Hall of Fame players and builders.
Newly acquired enforcer Georges Larague made his Canadiens debut after missing the first three games and the entire pre-season with a groin injury. He received one of the louder ovations during the pre-game player introductions and didn’t take long to give the fans what they wanted to see. Laraque stepped onto the ice for his first shift early in the first period and, before he could even take a stride, dropped the gloves with Shawn Thornton for a spirited tilt near the Habs bench.
“The guy came in and answered the bell,” Laraque said. “You’ve got to give him credit because a lot of guys wouldn’t. The fact he did says he does his job well.”
Thornton said Laraque’s presence can way heavily on a tough guy’s mind, so the early fight allowed him to concentrate on the game.
“I have a lot of respect for him, so I wanted to get it out of the way,” Thornton said. “I would have been thinking about it all night if I didn’t get it out of the way.”
Tim Thomas made 25 saves for the Bruins and played a solid game – aside from that short stretch in the first – after giving up an average of over four goals in six starts against the Canadiens last season.
With the Canadiens ahead 3-1 in the third, Savard scored his team-leading fourth and fifth goals of the year to force overtime.
He made it 3-2 at 7:12 of the third just as a 44-second two-man advantage was ending, snapping home a rebound off a Zdeno Chara shot into an open side.
Savard then benefited from a bad bounce off the end boards eluded Price as he went behind the net to play the puck, leaving Savard open in front of the net at 19:12.
“That was the third time that happened in the game, so I don’t know what happened,” Habs coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We had the Disney show in here, so maybe they didn’t put the boards back properly. We’ll check on it tomorrow. I’ll make sure we do.”
The Canadiens got on the board late in the first after Andrei Kostitsyn drew a retaliation cross-checking penalty on Bruins defenceman Denis Wideman deep in the Boston end for Montreal’s first power play of the game.
The Canadiens converted only 16 seconds later, with Kovalev tucking the puck in the short side after a give-and-go with Tomas Plekanec for his first of the season at 15:06.
Koivu made it 2-0 with his first of the year 1:32 later, banging home a rebound off a Guillaume Latendresse sharp angle shot at 16:38 of the first.
The Canadiens struck shorthanded fewer than two minutes later when Lapierre outworked Patrice Bergeron for a puck in the Bruins end then converted a feed from Mathieu Dandenault for his first of the season at 18:25 to give Montreal a 3-0 lead.
Kovalev said that was the time to put the Bruins away instead of taking the foot off the gas.
“It’s not easy when you have a three-goal lead and sit on it,” Kovalev said. “We did it a lot last year and it cost us, and it cost us again tonight. We’ll have to learn from that while it’s still early in the season.”
Krejci got the Bruins to within two goals at 7:15 of the second when he intercepted a weak Canadiens clearing attempt up the middle and one-timed home his second of the season just after Roman Hamrlik came out of the penalty box.
Notes: Injured Canadiens Chris Higgins (groin) and Francis Bouillon (knee) have yet to dress for a game this season. Centre Kyle Chipchura was a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game. …Bruins defenceman Shane Hnidy was scratched as Matt Hunwick made his season debut. Centre Petteri Nokelainen also didn’t dress for the Bruins and was replaced by recent call-up Vladimir Sobotka.