MONTREAL — Tomas Tatar scored in the fourth round of the shootout as the Montreal Canadiens held on for the dramatic 5-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.
Nick Cousins, with two, Ilya Kovalchuk and Joel Armia scored in regulation for the Canadiens (22-21-7), who have won four of their last five games. Carey Price made 31 saves for his fourth consecutive victory.
Jonathan Marchessault, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith replied for the Golden Knights (25-20-6) in their second game under new coach Peter DeBoer. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28-of-32 shots in defeat.
Down 4-2, Vegas scored twice in the game’s final two minutes to force overtime with Fleury on the bench for the extra skater.
Pacioretty scored against his former team with a shot from the blue line through traffic with 1:57 remaining.
Smith scored the equalizer with eight seconds on the clock when he tipped Stastny’s shot past Price. The Canadiens goaltender smashed his stick against his post in anger.
Fleury made highlight-reel saves on Phillip Danault and Kovalchuk on odd-man rushes in overtime to force a shootout, where Kovalchuk and Tatar scored.
Claude Julien’s men improved to 10-12-4 at home.
Montreal took a commanding 3-0 lead on nine shots after the first 20 minutes.
The Canadiens went ahead at 5:51 on Cousins’ sixth of the year. Weise sent a backhand pass from behind the net to Cousins, who slid the puck under Fleury’s outstretched pad.
Kovalchuk was coming off a two-goal performance in Montreal’s 4-1 victory in Philadelphia on Thursday and he added another to his total.
The 36-year-old scored his fourth in a Canadiens uniform to double the lead at 12:33. Fleury denied Kovalchuk’s initial shot in close but he couldn’t stop the Russian’s second effort.
The goal was Kovalchuk’s first at Bell Centre since 2011. His first three goals since joining Montreal came on the road.
The home team went up 3-0 when Armia deflected Brett Kulak’s shot and beat Fleury five-hole for his career-high 13th of the season.
The Golden Knights scored twice in the second period to come within one.
An unmarked Marchessault tallied from the slot on a pass from Smith behind the net at 9:08.
Ben Chiarot and Armia were unable to clear their crease and the veteran Stastny jammed a loose puck past Price to make it 3-2 at 14:47.
Cousins scored his second of the game on a 2-on-1 with Weise at 9:40 of the third to give Montreal at 4-2 advantage. Fleury overcommitted to the shot but Weise passed to Cousins instead for his seventh of the season.
The Golden Knights are 1-4-1 in their last six games. … Former Canadiens captain Pacioretty remains winless against his former team (0-1-2). … This was the Canadiens’ last game ahead of their bye week.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18 2020.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press