Tomas Tatar put away the shootout winner Saturday and the Montreal Canadiens edged the visiting Vancouver Canucks 5-4.
His deft stick handling in tight tricked Canucks netminder Braden Holtby and caused him to bite, allowing the veteran left-winger to score the game winner in the sixth round of the shootout.
Tatar also had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens (14-8-9) in regulation, a back-and-forth affair that saw four lead changes.
Nick Suzuki, Joel Edmundson and Brendan Gallagher also found the back of the net for Montreal, while Shea Weber and Phillip Danault each tallied a pair of assists.
Canucks captain Bo Horvat had a two-point night with a goal and a helper. Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser and Tyler Motte also scored for Vancouver (16-16-3), and Quinn Hughes added two assists.
It was a busy night for Holtby, who registered 36 saves in regulation. Carey Price stopped 14-of-18 shots for the Canadiens.
Saturday was the ninth and final meeting between the two teams this season. Montreal won the series with a 6-0-3 record. The Canucks snatched a 3-2 overtime victory from the Canadiens on Friday. Saturday’s result snapped Vancouver’s four-game win streak.
Overtime saw both Holtby and Price make huge stops late to force the shootout.
The Canucks were down 3-2 to start the third period on Saturday but changed their fate quickly.
Twenty-two seconds into the frame, Horvat won an offensive-zone faceoff and the puck slipped out to Hughes at the blue line. The defenceman unleashed a blast and Horvat, stationed at the front of the Habs net, tipped it in for the equalizer.
Motte gave the Canucks the lead 33 seconds later, collecting a pass from Jayce Hawryluk and whipping a shot in past Price.
The Canadiens refused to go quietly, however. Danault won a faceoff midway through the period and Gallagher picked up the puck. He wasted no time in ripping a wrist shot past Holtby to make it 4-4.
It was Edmundson who gave the Canadiens an edge heading into the second intermission. His wrist shot from near the blue line sailed in and out of the Vancouver net before Montreal had a chance to celebrate the 3-2 lead. Tatar was waiting at the side of the net to pop in the rebound, just in case.
Tatar had knotted the score at 2-2 earlier in the period with a blast through traffic that sailed over Holtby’s glove.
Montreal came into the second with a 1-0 lead.
Vancouver got on the board just 22 seconds into the frame when Miller sliced a pass to Virtanen from below the goal line and the right-winger fired it past Price from the top of the crease.
Boeser gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead with a power-play strike 8:08 into the period. His one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle beat Price glove side after Canadiens defenceman Brett Kulak was called for holding.
It was a power-play goal that opened the scoring for Montreal on Saturday. Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers was called for holding midway through the first period and the Canadiens capitalized. Suzuki used a Corey Perry screen to send a laser past Holtby for his seventh goal of the season.
Each side was perfect with the man advantage on Saturday, going 1-for-1 on the power play.
The Canadiens will continue their homestand Monday, kicking off a three-game series with the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks will host the Winnipeg Jets the same night.
NOTES: Horvat collected his 300th NHL point, notching an assist on Boeser’s goal. … Canadiens centre Tyler Toffoli missed Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. Toffoli has been key to Montreal’s offence this season, tallying 27 points (18 goals, nine assists) over 30 games. … Vancouver has placed forwards Elias Pettersson and Tanner Pearson on long-term injured reserve.
The Canadian Press