Audette’s goal 6:47 into the third period lifted the Canadiens into a 1-1 tie with the Canucks, who had a pair of tallies disallowed.
Audette spent a month in the minor leagues and had not scored since January 13. But he got a cross-ice pass from Jan Bulis, cut to the net and slipped the puck past goaltender Peter Skudra to forge a 1-1 tie.
“It was a great pass on my goal, just like tic-tac-toe,” Audette said. “I’m feeling good, I’ve got my legs back. It was tough for me to go down to the minors, but I got a lot of ice time in Hamilton. I had to leave my family here for a month. I’m not going to put any more pressure on myself. I’m not going to think too hard.”
After Vancouver’s Trevor Linden was penalized for tripping 3:01 into overtime, Audette had three spectacular chances to play the hero. But Skudra poked away a rebound before Audette could get to it with 26 seconds left, then stopped him twice from close range moments later.
“I wanted to score that goal so badly in overtime,” Audette said. “I should have lifted the puck.”
“He almost beat me with 20 seconds to go in overtime. He got a rebound out of nowhere. Luckily, I got my toe on the puck,” said Skudra, who made 20 saves. “He sure fired that one quickly.”
Jose Theodore made 37 saves for Montreal, which is winless in its last six games (0-4-1-1). The point kept the Canadiens four points behind Boston for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.
“It’s too bad we only got one point in 65 minutes,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. “Jose saved the game for us. We competed with one of the best teams in the league. We shut down the (Todd) Bertuzzi, (Brendan) Morrison and (Markus) Naslund line. It doesn’t show in the statistics, but Joey Juneau did a heck of a job checking that line.”
Trevor Letowski beat Theodore in the opening minute of the third period for the Canucks, who had a team-record 14-game unbeaten streak snapped Thursday with a 3-2 loss to San Jose. Vancouver had not gone consecutive games without a win since January 21-24.
“We’re not panicking after just two games,” Bertuzzi said. “We should have scored early. We should have had a commanding lead. We deserved a handful of goals. … You expect Jose Theodore to be on top of his game. He is one of the best goalies in this league.”
The Canucks held Montreal without a shot for the opening 6 1/2 minutes and appeared to take the lead on the power play at 2:56. But referee Shane Heyer lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle before defenseman Brent Sopel rammed the puck past Theodore.
Late in the first period, Vancouver defenseman Ed Jovanovski rang a shot off the crossbar. And with 11:49 to go in the second, Bertuzzi cut in front of the net, got off a shot and forced Theodore and the puck across the goal line. But Heyer immediately waved it off.
“I didn’t see any of the disallowed goals,” Bertuzzi said. “You guys can see them better in the press box on the television replays.”
The Canucks finally broke through 49 seconds into the third when Letowski tipped Jovanovski’s shot between Theodore’s pads for his 10th goal.
Montreal native Brandon Reid picked up an assist for his first NHL point.