The Nashville Predators scored four third-period goals in a span of 10:34 to force extra time with the Montreal Canadiens, then finished the valiant comeback with a pair of shootout tallies to collect their first-ever win at the Bell Centre, 5-4 on Saturday night. The Canadiens led the game 4-1 at the 10-minute mark of the third, when David Legwand, Greg de Vries and Radek Bonk all scored in a 6:47 span to knot the game at four apiece. For the second straight game, the Preds scored in the final minute of regulation, and eventually won the game. This time, it was Bonk, who provided his team-leading 10th goal with just 47 ticks left.
"That has been one of the characteristics of our club all season long is that we have been resilient," head coach Barry Trotz said.
Dan Ellis collected the victory for the Predators stopping 18 shots in relief of starter Chris Mason. Nashville outshot Montreal 44-26, while both teams notched a power-play marker.
Jed Ortmeyer – known more for his defensive and penalty killing prowess – was in on the game’s first two prime scoring chances. The first came in the opening minute on a partial breakaway which Ortmeyer shot high and wide, and the second came at the 4:52 mark when he narrowly missed finishing a two-on-one with Legwand through goalie Cristobal Huet’s five hole.
Shortly after the failed odd-man rush, Huet once again came up big for Canadiens, stoning Martin Erat on nearly the exact same play Ortmeyer had earlier in the frame.
Timely saves on one end set the stage for a timely goal by the Habs on the other – a marker by Chris Higgins at the 9:02 mark to give the home team a 1-0 advantage. Higgins was in the right place at the right time, spinning and burying a chance created by Alexei Kovalev crashing the net.
Nashville continued to garner chances, hitting posts on drives by Shea Weber and Jordin Tootoo, but Montreal took a two-goal lead at 13:39 mark of the first when Mason misplayed a nonchalant backhander by Tomas Plekanec. Mason seemed to be anticipating a cross-crease pass, as the puck trickled off his left pad and into the net. Following the goal, Trotz decided to shake things up, replacing Mason with Ellis.
"We had plenty of chances and it could have very well been two or three nothing in favor of us after the first period," Trotz said.
The wide-open action continued through the end of the opening 20, as the Preds got yet another breakaway at 16:05. This time, it was Vernon Fiddler who rushed in shorthanded, but fired it wide of the Montreal net.
It was more of the same in the second period with plenty of offense from both teams. But, while the Predators continued to come dangerously close to getting on the scoreboard, the opposition capitalized on their chances. Montreal got on the board for the third time at 9:30 on a quick counter attack. Kyle Chipchura started the play, cutting into the corner and finding a man in the slot, while Guillaume Latendrasse finished the play, throwing a slick deke and beating Ellis glove side.
Shea Weber buries Bryan Smolinski into the boards.
Nashville stole a bit of the momentum at the end of the second and beginning of the third on a superb four-minute penalty kill. The number-one ranked Montreal power play (26.2%) was hardly able to set up during the extended advantage and was outshot by the Nashville PK unit. Following the kill, the Preds were able to turn up the heat and draw a pair of penalties against the Canadiens in the first five minutes of the third.
The Predators didn’t score on either of the ensuing power-play chances, but rather waited for the unlikeliest of times to draw first blood. While once again down a man, Ortmeyer’s hard work finally paid off, notching his first goal as a Predator, and the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season, at 8:40 of the third. The play occurred on what appeared to be a harmless dump in by Dan Hamhuis from center ice. But, the puck took an odd bounce off the end boards and right out in front. Huet never got set, and Ortmeyer beat him stick side.
It didn’t take the Canadiens long to reclaim a three-goal lead though, as Latendrasse got his second of the night, slamming home a one-timer from the slot at 10:41.
Nashville came roaring back though, pulling back within two goals just 1:45 later. This time, it was Legwand who did the honors, fighting off a defender draped all over him to bear down for the goal. The Detroit, Mich., native became the all-time leading scorer in Predators history by swatting two and three times at a loose puck in the crease before finally getting it past Huet. Hamhuis picked up an assist on the Preds second goal, giving him three helpers in the past two games.
Legwand had been tied with former Pred Kimmo Timonen atop the list for the last four games, but climbed ahead of Timonen with his 113th goal and 302nd point.
Alexander Radulov congratulates teammate Radek Bonk for his goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the final seconds.
de Vries made it a whole new game at 16:55 of the final frame, scoring his second goal in as many games on a quick wrist shot from the left point. de Vries’ seeing-eye shot navigated its way through a host of players in front and past a screened Huet top shelf.
"The Ortmeyer goal got us going, but the de Vries goal was really the one were our guys decided we were going to do this," Trotz said.
The Predators received a timely power play, and once again came up with last-minute heroics, this time courtesy of Radek Bonk. With Bryan Smolinski in the box for the Habs, and Ellis on the bench for an extra attacker, the Predators unleashed an all-out assault in the Montreal zone. And after countless chances by Alexander Radulov down low, and the defensive corps from the point, Bonk found the puck on his stick and gingerly slid it past two defenders, in addition to Huet, into the net at 19:13. Legwand picked up his second assist and third point of the night on the game-tying marker.
“It was a great play by Zidlicky, and I wanted to shoot, but Huet didn’t give me anything to shoot at so I had to make that move and it paid off,” Bonk said.
A frantic end-to-end overtime featured plenty of chances, but despite posts being hit and chances at wide-open nets, neither team scored, and the teams headed to a shootout.
All six skaters were needed to settle the one-on-one breakaways, but it was the Preds who prevailed 2-1 on a pair of quick wrist shots from the slot by Bonk and Erat.
The Predators now head to Southern Ontario for the final game of this six-day eastern Canadian road swing, clashing with the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday. There is no local television coverage for the contest, but all the action can be followed on WGFX-104.5 The Zone.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Ville Koistinen, Kevin Klein and Darcy Hordichuk from the lineup, while Montreal sent Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos to the press box… The power play has four goals in its last 11 opportunities… The Predators are now 1-3-1 at the Bell Center. They were playing their first game in the venue since Dec. 18, 2003… Nashville is 4-0-0 against the Eastern Conference this season, 6-4 in one-goal games and 3-2 in overtime… The Preds have outshot their opponent in seven of the past eight outings… Dan Hamhuis racked up 26:49 of ice time to lead all Predators, while Jerred Smithson blocked a game-high five shots… Scott Nichol was outstanding in the face-off circle, winning nine of the 10 draws he took. Overall the Predators won 34 of 57 draws in the game (60%).
1 - 0 MTL
2 - 0 MTL