Montreal Canadiens let one slip away in 3-2 overtime loss to New Jersey Devils - InfoNews

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Montreal Canadiens let one slip away in 3-2 overtime loss to New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils' Nico Hischier scores against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi as Canadiens' Shea Weber defends during third period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, February 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
February 02, 2019 - 3:29 PM

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said the best team did not come out on top Saturday afternoon.

The Canadiens outshot and out-chanced the visiting Devils but two goals by Nico Hischier gave New Jersey the 3-2 come-from-behind victory in overtime. With Montreal leading 2-1 to start the third period, the 20-year-old Hischier scored the equalizer before netting the overtime winner.

"It was pretty obvious we were the best team tonight," said Julien. "We had a lot of chances. We lost in overtime because we just couldn't finish our scoring chances. This would have been a much different game if we had taken advantage of those scoring chances."

Montreal fired 79 pucks towards New Jersey's rookie goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, with 39 of those hitting the target. The Devils blocked 24 shots in the game.

New Jersey, meanwhile, fired just 39 pucks towards Antti Niemi. He had 24 saves on 27 shots.

"Afte two periods we should have had an even bigger lead," added the Canadiens bench boss. "But when you let a team stay in the game like that, eventually it comes back to haunt you."

Montreal was 14-2-2 when leading after two periods.

Wearing the alternate captain's "A" on his jersey for the first time in his career, Hischier made it 2-2 at 11:26 of the third after getting his stick on a loose puck in the slot to beat Niemi for his 15th goal of the season.

The goal came less than a minute after Tomas Tatar fanned on a premium goal-scoring opportunity.

And just seconds after Montreal's Max Domi hit the post in overtime, the Devils darted down the ice. With his father watching from the stands, Hischier blew past defenceman Victor Mete to beat Niemi high blocker from a tight angle at 1:56.

"He keeps getting better and better," said veteran Brian Boyle of Hischier. "If you watch his game and how it's grown in the last year and a half, it's really impressive. He's been a leader in here with the amount he's taken on since last year. He's handled the ups and downs extremely well. Just look at his performance tonight."

Carey Price was serving his one-game suspension after declining an invitation to last week's all-star game. Niemi dropped to 8-5-2 on the season with a 24-save effort.

Playing their first game in 10 days following their bye week, the Canadiens (28-18-6) picked up right where they left off after winning five of their previous six games.

First-round draft pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi opened the scoring for Montreal 5:22 into the game on a quick release glove side on Blackwood for his seventh of the year.

The 18-year-old centre now ranks fourth among NHL rookies in scoring behind Vancouver's Elias Pettersson, Buffalo's Rasmus Dahlin and Ottawa's Colin White.

With the Devils (20-24-7) playing 5-on-3 hockey, Will Butcher equalized with a one-timer from the point that beat Niemi top corner with 44 seconds left in the first period. New Jersey has scored a power-play goal in three straight games.

Montreal took control of the encounter in the second period, outshooting New Jersey 18-4. Only one of those shots beat Blackwood though, when Phillip Danault redirected Jeff Petry's point shot at 16:33.

"That's something we need to learn from," said Petry. "We played a really good two periods but we weren't able to close it off in the third. We let them back in and tie it. We had chances to score and we didn't bury them. It's a different game if we capitalize."

The Canadiens went 0 for 3 with the man advantage.

The victory was a rare one for the Devils, who are 7-17-3 away from home.

Notes: Paul Byron made his return to the lineup following a three-game suspension for a dangerous hit to the head. … Travis Zajac (undisclosed injury) did not play for New Jersey. … Montreal hosts the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday afternoon.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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