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Canadiens locate offense in third period, stun Blue Jackets

Nov 23, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Sean Kuraly (7) falls to the ice from a Montreal Canadiens defenseman David Savard (58) check  during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Defensemen Arber Xhekaj and David Savard scored the tying and go-ahead goals, respectively, 57 seconds apart as the visiting Montreal Canadiens snapped a six-game losing streak to the Columbus Blue Jackets with Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory.

Following two periods of goalless hockey, the offense finally made an appearance during an eventful third.

Columbus took advantage of a Montreal own-zone turnover to take a 1-0 lead just 1:08 into the final period. A lazy pass by Montreal’s Mike Matheson, from behind his own net, landed on the stick of Mathieu Olivier, who beat late-reacting Sam Montembeault (30 saves). Olivier’s only other goal this season came during Columbus’ 6-4 home win over the Canadiens on Thursday.

However, Montreal took the lead with two goals in less than a minute to stun the home crowd. Just 90 seconds after Columbus went ahead, Xhekaj threw a wrister past screened Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo (26 saves) to tie the contest. Then Montreal’s Kirby Dach centered the puck in front of the net, which went in off Savard’s toe and by Korpisalo to put the Canadiens ahead.

Sean Monahan added an empty-netter for Montreal, which then held off a late surge by the home team to beat the Blue Jackets for the first time since Nov. 12, 2019. The Canadiens had also lost four straight and eight of the previous nine at Columbus.

Though the first period ended without a goal, it was a moral victory, of sorts, for the Canadiens, who were much stingier after allowing three goals in the first 2:13 of Tuesday’s 7-2 home loss to Buffalo.

Meanwhile, each team failed to convert some strong scoring chances within the first five minutes of the second period. Korpisalo made a last-second stop on Monahan during a Montreal power play. Then, Montembeault stopped breakaway chances from Olivier and Gustav Nyquist over a 14-second span.

The lower-scoring affair proved rather surprising considering Columbus entered the night allowing the second-most goals in the NHL with 78. Meanwhile, Montreal yielded 26 in its previous five contests.

–Field Level Media