MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens didn't understand the officials' decision on Pittsburgh's overtime winner on Saturday.
The Penguins came from behind to defeat the Canadiens 3-2 on Brandon Tanev’s controversial overtime goal, handing Montreal a fifth straight defeat.
Tanev scored 1:49 into extra time when he cashed in Teddy Blueger’s rebound past a sprawled-out Carey Price. The Canadiens felt Blueger knocked Price’s left pad after the initial shot, preventing him from making the save on Tanev.
Referees Marc Joannette and Chris Rooney went to the video review but confirmed the call on the ice — a good goal for Pittsburgh.
“I think there was contact, but it’s the referees making the final decision,” said centre Phillip Danault. “I don’t really understand all these different rules. I think (Blueger) impeded the goaltender. It’s frustrating because we just want the rules to be more clear.”
The Canadiens fell to 0-4-1 in their last five games and 3-6-1 in their last 10.
“This is what I said at the beginning of the year, it’s 50-50, just like the challenges,” said head coach Claude Julien. “It depends how they see it. I can’t comment on something I don’t know why they called it a goal.
“I can’t comment because we’re not the ones making those decisions. That’s up to the referees and Toronto. That’s all I can say.”
Montreal (18-17-7) led 2-1 in the third period on two goals by Artturi Lehkonen before Bryan Rust levelled the score at 5:24. The equalizer came less than a minute after Montreal-born defenceman Marco Scandella, who was making his Canadiens debut, drilled a shot off the post.
It was redemption for Rust, who nearly tied the game in the second but could not beat Price. The Canadiens goaltender went post-to-post to rob Rust with his glove on a cross-crease pass from Evgeni Malkin — his best stop of the night. Price made 34 saves on 37 shots.
“(Price) competes on every puck,” said Scandella. “He makes huge saves. He’s confident back there and moves the puck well. Having a goalie like that gives you a lot of confidence as a defenceman.
“He deserved a better fate.”
With the game still tied 2-2, Lehkonen nearly completed a hat trick on a breakaway with eight minutes left in the third but Matt Murray stretched the left pad to make the save. Murray stopped 26-of-28 shots.
The Penguins (25-11-5) improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games at Bell Centre.
“I thought (Murray) was terrific,” said Pens coach Mike Sullivan. “The breakaway stop he made in the third period was a huge save for us. That was a game-changing save. Matt’s game is trending the right way. His last couple of starts have been pretty solid. Tonight, I think, was his best.”
Newly-acquired veteran Ilya Kovalchuk did not make his Canadiens debut. The Russian signed a one-year, two-way contract with Montreal on Friday.
The Canadiens jumped to a 1-0 lead at 8:42 of the first period through Lehkonen’s eighth on an athletic play from Max Domi. The second-line centre dangled the puck behind his back to evade Patric Hornqvist before feeding Lehkonen, who was unmarked to Murray’s left.
Domi extended his point streak to nine games with the assist.
Pittsburgh tied the game 46 seconds later. A turnover in the neutral zone by Jesperi Kotkaniemi gave Blueger enough time to shovel a loose puck to Zach Aston-Reese, who was alone in the slot and beat Price blocker side.
Lehkonen restored Montreal’s one-goal advantage 3:37 into the second period on a heads-up play deep in Pittsburgh’s end. The winger anticipated a pass from Kris Letang to Jack Johnson across the slot, intercepted the puck and rammed it past Murray for his 100th career point.
Notes: Alex Galchenyuk was kept off the score sheet in his fourth game against his former team. … Olympic freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury was in attendance at Bell Centre.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2020.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press