MONTREAL (AP)—The Montreal Canadiens caught all the late breaks to snap their longest losing streak of the season.
Saku Koivu’s power-play goal with 22.3 seconds remaining gave Montreal a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. That came after Christopher Higgins drew the Canadiens even with 1:53 left.
Koivu scored off a scramble in front of goalie Jonathan Quick.
“I saw the puck when I turned, it was right in front of the goalie and I just tried to stuff it in,” Koivu said. “I don’t know if I hit it or not and it was just laying down there and kind of got underneath the goalie and I think he pushed it over the line himself.”
Facing their longest losing streak in nearly two years, the Canadiens tied it when Higgins got behind Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to score his first goal in three games since returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him since Dec. 9.
“You’ve just got to try to get ahead of (Doughty) there, you know, you’ve got to throw the elbow out and try to get your shoulder ahead of his shoulder so you can cut to the net,” Higgins said. “I just knocked him off balance there a little bit. I saw the poke-check coming so I put it over his shoulder.”
Doughty was surprised Higgins wasn’t penalized on the play.
“I thought it was pretty obvious that he kind of stuck out his arm and just threw me back there, but they didn’t give us the call, obviously, so we’ve just got to forget about it and come back hard next game,” Doughty said.
Carey Price stopped 23 shots for his first win in four starts since returning from an ankle injury.
“It’s a start, but that’s all it is,” Price said. “It’s a start, you know, we’ve got to keep moving from here.”
Quick made 28 saves, and Michal Handzus also scored for Los Angeles.
“It was a good 59-minute game, but at this point in the year—you can say what you want, but we need to start winning these games.” Brown said. “We’ve blown too many of these games, which are valuable points.”
Kings defenseman Denis Gauthier was given a game misconduct 3:50 into the second period after he was assessed a major for charging.
“I haven’t seen the replay yet, so I don’t want to say anything,” Gauthier said. “I want to wait until I see the replay, but I didn’t come in there with any intention of doing anything bad—it was just a hit.”
Gauthier left his feet while driving his right forearm into Josh Gorges’ head as he checked the Montreal defenseman along the left boards.
“Obviously it was filthy,” Higgins said. “The guy’s got a history of it, too, so I just hope the league does something about it, but it’s clear as day it was an elbow, obviously—I mean, he left his feet. Hopefully there’s pretty lengthy discipline for him.”
Kostitsyn scored 3 seconds after the ensuing faceoff to put the Canadiens up 2-1. Montreal held a 5-on-3 advantage, with Raitis Ivanans already in the penalty box when Gauthier was ejected, and Koivu won the draw in the left faceoff circle and got the puck back to Kostitsyn, who put a shot past Quick for his 17th goal at 3:53.
Brown drew Los Angeles even at 2 with his 20th goal at 13:30.
Gorges, who was bleeding from his left nostril after the hit, returned after going to the dressing room.
“I was surprised,” Higgins said. “They replayed it on the jumbo screen and you saw his face after the hit and he wasn’t on Earth, that’s for sure, he was somewhere else.”
The Montreal defenseman turned over the puck deep in Montreal’s zone late in the period to Kyle Calder, who set up Stoll for the go-ahead goal at 18:16.
Gorges did not return for the third period.
Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau had no update on Gorges’ condition and was unsure if he would be able to play Sunday against Boston.
“We’ll see (Sunday) morning,” Carbonneau said.
The Kings appeared to have scored 3:22 in when Derek Armstrong deflected Gauthier’s point shot past Price, who immediately appealed to referee Stephane Auger for a high stick.
A video review overturned Auger’s call and disallowed the goal, but Los Angeles struck first moments later when Handzus scored his eighth on a power play at 4:57 after Alexander Frolov’s centering pass deflected to him off Brown’s skate for a shot into a wide open right side.
Plekanec drew the Canadiens even at 1 at 11:41 when he slipped behind Quick and put a backhand past the Kings goalie’s outstretched right pad for his 10th goal.
The Kings won four straight from Nov. 6-13. … Montreal lost six in a row from Feb. 6-17, 2007.