Canadiens sting the Blues 5-4, snap losing skid

MONTREAL — Determined to snap a six-game losing skid, the Montreal Canadiens fought tooth and nail during an intense third period to earn a 5-4 win against the St. Louis Blue on Saturday.

The Habs and Blues scored five goals in the final frame but Josh Anderson netted the game winner by tapping in a backhand from Jonathan Drouin past the goal line at 11:30.

The Blues (19-18-3) only managed to get one shot on net after Anderson’s goal while Montreal (16-21-3) blocked six shots, including five in the final two minutes, to hold on for the win.

“I think it’s the Saturday night energy,” said Habs coach Martin St. Louis. “You knew there would be energy in the building tonight and we built our game as it went on.

"Our special teams were good tonight and as the game went on, the guys knew we were playing well, and when you’re in the game in the third it’s easier to have passion.”

“It shows a lot of resilience on our side,” Drouin added. “We knew we were going to get chances with the way we were playing this whole game and it was huge to get that tying goal from Joel and another one after.”

Joel Armia scored two goals. Kirby Dach and Cole Caufield also scored. Jake Allen made 18 saves and allowed four goals as he swept the season series against his former team.

After being a healthy scratched in Montreal’s 6-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 3, Armia has scored in consecutive games.

“I don't feel like I played that well,” said Armia of his play before getting scratched. “You just need to sometimes look in the mirror and demand better, better of yourself.”

“I had many discussions (with Armia) since the start of the season but they can only bring him so far,” said St. Louis. “He needs to reflect and get himself out of it. I’m happy for Army.”

The Blues were helped by their fourth line. Alexey Torpochenko scored while Nikita Alexandrov netted his first NHL goal. Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevic added goals.

Jordan Binnington gave up five goals and made 22 saves.

“We just lost coverage around our net on a couple of plays. One play, we don’t get it out of the blue line and it comes back at us,” said Blues coach Craig Berube. “Mistakes, too many penalties. Eight minutes in penalties tonight.”

Christian Dvorak tried to rekindle the magic from the last Canadiens-Blues encounter, where he recorded a hat trick in a 7-4 win. Late in the first period, Dvorak found his way between Blues defencemen Calle Rosen and Justin Faulk but Binnington denied the centre’s effort to score the first goal.

Seconds later, the Blues broke the ice on the counter attack. Brayden Schenn passed over to Saad on a two-on-one down the ice giving the visitors a 1-0 lead by the first intermission.

Armia levelled the score for Montreal in the second period. The winger made Jack Neighbours fall by spinning and winding up a wrist shot that beat Binnington.

St. Louis regained their lead when former Hab Tyler Pitlick found Torpochenko, who scored his second goal of the campaign.

Montreal had a golden opportunity to tie the game at 2-2 after Ivan Barbachev took a four-minute high-sticking call. After three minutes of sustained pressure, it seemed as though the Blues would escape from their lengthy penalty but Dach equalized from the high slot.

“It's definitely something we've all been working on,” Drouin said. “If you're not scoring on the power play, at least you want to be generating chances and making the other team work for their PK and I thought we did that tonight. There's a lot of good movements, a lot of shots coming from a lot of areas and it's just great to capitalize on one.”

The Canadiens took their first lead of the game 36 seconds into the third period. Nick Suzuki sent a high pass for Caufield from behind the net and the winger surprised Binnington for his 23rd goal of the season.

The Blues tied the game less than two minutes later when Alexandrov hopped on Allen’s rebound to score his first NHL goal.

St. Louis made it a 4-3 game on the power play after former Blue Joel Edmundsson’s weak clearance ended up on Buchnevic’s stick in the slot.

The Habs tied the game yet again when Jake Evans hit the post but Armia grabbed the rebound and netted his second of the night.

The Canadiens took their second lead of the game when Drouin’s backhand slid under Binnington and Anderson tapped the puck past the goal line.

“It's huge for us,” said David Savard. “It was a tough month, we were going on a tough stretch right now and to finally get a win at home, it doesn't matter how you get it.

“There was a lot of momentum swinging in that game and we handled it pretty well. We kept forechecking, creating stuff and we finally get a win at home.”

NOTES

Blues defenceman Robert Bortuzzo suffered a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return to the game.

DEFENCEMEN REACH MILESTONES

Canadiens defenceman David Savard skated in his 700th NHL game. The Ste. Hyacithe, Que., native split his 12-year NHL career between the Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning and collected 191 points (45 goals, 146 assists) along the way.

On the other side of the ice, Blues defenceman Justin Faulk laced up his skates for an 800th NHL game. The 33-year-old also played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Blues and the Carolina Hurricanes totalling 368 points (119 goals, 249 assists).

UP NEXT

The Canadiens end their three-game homestand by hosting the Seattle Kraken on Monday.

The Blues cap off back-to-back road games in Minnesota against the Wild on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2023.

Tristan D’Amours, The Canadian Press