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Colton Sissons scores twice as Predators hold off Canadiens for 2-1 win

MONTREAL — Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette believes Sunday night's 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens was a good example of how far his team has come.

Colton Sissons scored twice, Juuse Saros made 36 saves and the Predators held off the Canadiens despite a late push from the home side at Bell Centre. Captain Roman Josi pitched in with two assists.

"We're starting to understand how to win these kind of games when maybe you lose a little momentum," said Brunette. "Early in the year we probably would have caved a little bit, so I think we've been able to grow as a team here.

"Going on the third period, I really felt we understood that maybe we didn't have the energy, we needed to play a certain way, but we managed the game extremely well."

The Predators (15-13-0) lost 4-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday but have won 10 of their past 13 games after a slow start to the NHL season.

"We needed a good response," said Sissons. "I thought we had some juice at the drop of the puck tonight and played a much better game."

Jake Evans scored the lone goal for Montreal (12-13-3), which beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Saturday in a shootout.

The Canadiens started strong and dominated the final 25 minutes of play, but struggled on the power play all night, going 0-for-5. The Predators, meanwhile, were 1-for-2.

"I've really liked our starts lately, but for some reason we have a tough time sustaining that start," said Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. "I felt tonight, we lost momentum because our PP didn’t execute."

Jake Allen put in a solid performance by stopping 30 shots for Montreal, but didn't get much run support.

Allen hasn't won since Oct. 28, losing seven starts in a row.

"I felt good tonight, felt like I played well," said Allen. "I feel like in this stretch there's been some games that were OK, but there have been good games (where) I just didn't get the result. It was another one tonight."

A whistle-heavy first period featured six minor penalties, with each team taking three apiece — but only Nashville took advantage as Sissons opened the scoring on the power play by deflecting a shot from Filip Forsberg at 11:41.

While Montreal’s power-play struggles continued into the second — drawing jeers from the Bell Centre crowd — Nashville doubled its lead at 7:03 when Sissons buried a rebound at the side of the net.

Joel Armia appeared to cut the Predators' lead in half with a minute left in the period off a scramble, but the goal was immediately waved off for goaltender interference with Brendan Gallagher buried in Saros’s crease — much to the dismay of the home crowd.

Evans, however, responded with a backhand past Saros with 35 seconds left to make it 2-1. It was the second goal of the season for Evans, and first since opening night against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 11.

Montreal carried that momentum into the third, outshooting Nashville 14-5.

The Canadiens held the puck in Nashville’s zone with Allen pulled over the final 1:30, but couldn’t score the equalizer on Saros.

"He was awesome, just classic Juice, right?" said Josi about Saros. "You always know what you're getting from him. He made some really big saves. I thought they pushed really hard at the end of the second and in the third but he did his thing."

PEARSON OUT

The Canadiens announced after the game that forward Tanner Pearson would be out four to six weeks with an upper-body injury. Pearson took a shot off his left hand in the first period of Saturday’s win at Buffalo and did not return.

The 31-year-old Pearson played just 14 games last season after missing most of the campaign with a broken left hand that needed multiple surgeries.

Montreal is already down forwards Kirby Dach (knee, out for season), Alex Newhook (lower body, 10-12 weeks as of Dec. 2) and Rafael Harvey-Pinard (lower body, eight weeks as of Nov. 21).

In other injury news, defenceman David Savard returned from a 22-game absence Sunday due to a broken hand. Savard rejoined Mike Matheson on the Canadiens’ top pairing and replaced Gustav Lindstrom in the lineup.

UP NEXT

Canadiens: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

Predators: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 10, 2023.

Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press