MONTREAL — Ilya Kovalchuk scored in overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Marco Scandella scored late in the third period for the Canadiens (27-23-7), who have won three games in a row and seven of their last nine. Carey Price made 22 saves and improved to 8-2-0 in his last 10 games.
Captain John Tavares scored for the Maple Leafs (29-19-8), who squandered a 1-0 lead with 2:33 left in the game.
Replacing injured starter Frederik Andersen (neck), Jack Campbell made 28 saves in his second game in as many nights. Campbell joined Toronto in a trade from Los Angeles this week.
The score remained 0-0 until Tavares got the breakthrough on Toronto’s very first shot of the third period. The Leafs captain fired a low shot, far side into traffic that found its way through bodies and past Price at 1:06 – his fourth consecutive game with a goal.
The encounter opened up from there as the Canadiens pressed for the equalizer. Toronto’s defence, without injured players Cody Ceci and Morgan Rielly, did well to limit Montreal’s high-grade chances.
But the home team outshot Toronto 16-1 in the third and finally scored with 2:33 left in the game when Scandella’s slap shot found an opening under Campbell’s left pad.
Montreal scored off the rush 1:43 into overtime. After Campbell made the initial save on Nick Suzuki, Kovalchuk netted the rebound for his ninth goal of the season.
The Canadiens, fighting for a playoff spot in the East, are now five points behind the Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.
Neither team found the back of the net in a fast-paced, back-and-forth first period where there was little room for error.
The Maple Leafs came out flying in the second – shots were 14-4 Toronto – and Price needed to be at his best to keep the game scoreless.
Justin Holl rifled a one-timer off the crossbar 40 seconds into the frame and Price did well to smother the loose rebound. He later denied Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman while the Leafs were on the penalty kill. Price also stopped Tavares with the pad alone in front.
Montreal’s Jonathan Drouin (wrist surgery) was back on the ice for the first time since Nov. 15. The winger, who missed 37 games, had 11:49 of ice time. Captain Shea Weber remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
The Canadiens also won the first two games against the Leafs this year. The teams face each other for a fourth and final time this season on Apr. 4.
Defenceman Xavier Ouellet played his first game of the season. He assisted on Scandella’s goal. … Rookie Ryan Poehling was sent down to the AHL’s Laval Rocket. … NHL legend Bobby Hull was in attendance at Bell Centre.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2020.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press