Hoffman plays hero as Canadiens beat Penguins 5-4 in overtime

MONTREAL — Despite scoring an early first-period goal, the Montreal Canadiens needed to dig deep and play catch-up hockey on Saturday night in order to earn a third consecutive victory.

But for Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis “not giving up" is starting to become a pattern.

Mike Hoffman scored 63 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens completed the comeback with a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It’s not just in some games, we’re not giving up in every single game,” St. Louis said. “Tonight, we weren’t winning but we played a good game, continued to do what we do and continued to believe that the way we play would take us where we want to go.”

Sean Monahan's power-play goal at 14:42 of the third period tied the game for Montreal and forced the overtime session.

“It just shows the character that this group is starting to have and it's a good thing to be a part of,” Hoffman said.

Nick Suzuki scored one goal and added an assist. Josh Anderson and Cole Caufield also scored for Montreal. Jake Allen allowed four goals and made 19 saves.

The Canadiens (8-6-1) also picked up at least one point in four of their last five games. Their only regulation loss in that stretch came against the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 5.

“We’re not bothered with the results,” St. Louis said. “There are no standings posted in our room and we don’t look at them either, we just show up.”

Rickard Rakell and Jeff Petry each recorded a goal and assist, while Evgeni Malkin and Brock McGinn added goals for the Penguins (6-7-2). Jason Zucker chipped in with three assists. Tristan Jarry allowed five goals and made 36 saves. In their three-game road trip, the Penguins earned five out of six points.

“When you get five out of six points out of three games on the road, most coaches would probably take that,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “But when it’s there for you to get six, it’s a little bit disappointing.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game for us coming into it. Just logistically it’s one of those games where you know it’s going to be a tough one. Give Montreal credit, they played really well.”

Montreal took the lead at 1:48 of the first period. Anderson was given all the space needed in the high slot to beat Jarry with a wrist shot.

After a slow first period, the Penguins entered the second frame with a bang. Rakell found Petry in front of the net and the blue liner scored his first goal against his former team.

Rakell then tipped Marcus Petterson’s shot from the point to give the Penguins their first lead of the game less than two minutes later.

Both teams exploded with five goals in the third period. Montreal equalized 49 seconds into the third period when Caufield’s shot from the point zoomed through Kirby Dach and Petterson and beat Jarry. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan challenged the goal for goaltender interference but the goal stood.

Pittsburgh quickly regained their lead when Malkin beat Allen unassisted.

But the Habs tied the game again when Dach and Suzuki connected in front of Jarry’s net and the captain broke the double-digit mark with his 10th goal of the season. Suzuki confirmed the feat before of his sniper linemate Caufield.

“It looks like they're battling for it right now,” Anderson said of the race for Montreal’s top goal scorer between both teammates. “It's a good competition to have, it's healthy.”

The Penguins regained the lead for a third time when Jeff Carter found McGinn on a two-on-one opportunity.

Pittsburgh’s lead was once again short-lived as Monahan jumped on Jarry’s rebound in the crease during a four-on-three power play to level the game 4-4.

The Canadiens sealed the win in overtime when Dach located Hoffman who beat Jarry.

SUZUKI ON FIRE

Nick Suzuki isn’t feeling the pressure of being the newest Canadiens captain. The 23-year-old continued his hot start by scoring 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his last seven games.

“We're having a lot of fun,” Suzuki said. “This group's a ton of fun to be around, our coaching staff is great. We just love coming to the rink, seeing each other and hanging out and we're playing really good hockey. The whole team’s really loose right now and we're having fun winning.”

St. Louis added that Montreal’s coaching staff couldn’t be happier with their choice to name Suzuki as the team’s captain.

“I’m very impressed, but not surprised,” St. Louis said. “Every action he makes, his behaviour, he’s confirming the decision we made.”

UP NEXT

The Canadiens will play the New Jersey Devils at home on Tuesday.

The Penguins return to Pittsburgh and host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2022.

Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press