MONTREAL (AP)—Even after falling behind a second time, the Montreal Canadiens believed they could mount a comeback. The way his team has been playing with a lead, Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock knew it was possible.
Bergeron tied the game at 2 with his fourth goal midway through the second. He scored his second goal of the game—the Canadiens’ second in a span of 2:28 early in the third—to give Montreal the lead for good.
“We knew we were going to have to battle hard,” Bergeron said. “We can’t allow any points to slip away and we knew tonight we had a chance to win this game and we just went out there in the third and did what we had to do.”
“We did not manage the game—that’s the story of our season,” Hitchcock said. “We had a game well in control, we played two perfect periods, and then we didn’t manage the damn game. We forced pucks, we forced ourselves up ice from the back end and lost the hockey game because of that.”
Carey Price(notes) stopped 33 shots and Mike Cammalleri and Glen Metropolit(notes) also scored for Montreal, which improved to 3-0-1 in its last four games, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Detroit on Saturday.
“Our guys played great,” Price said. “In that second half of the game we didn’t give them very much.”
“We’re not focused in the right area,” Hitchcock said. “We want to play a different game than you have to play to shut a game down. We just want to continually play in a track meet and that’s exactly what we did and we got burnt. We forced pucks, we forced it into covered people, turn it over and it’s in our net. Not smart.”
“We have not got good goaltending the last two nights,” Hitchcock said. “It’s got to be better. And for us, you can’t put in efforts like we did in the first two periods and then throw it away because we’ve thrown it away too many times on the road and that’s exactly what we did again.”
The former Canadiens goalie made a fine pokecheck to deny Max Pacioretty’s(notes) scoring chance moments before he was down and out when Bergeron took Ryan White’s(notes) pass from behind the goal line and put a shot into the left side of the net.
Lapierre’s goal at 15:25 gave Montreal its first two-goal margin.
Vermette restored Columbus’ 3-2 lead 11:46 into the second period with his second of the game, the Blue Jackets’ second straight power-play goal. He and Stralman also scored 1:36 apart in the first.
“We started really good,” Vermette said. “I thought we played great the first two periods. That’s the way we want to play. They seemed to get energy. They got a goal and from there we tried to force things.”
Metropolit drew Montreal even for the second time 2:18 into the third. Roman Hamrlik’s(notes) point shot struck the crossbar and Metropolit swooped in to backhand home the loose puck in the crease after it dropped behind Garon.
“They were playing a pretty good game,” Metropolit said. “We weren’t having a good third man high the first two periods. They were getting odd-man rushes and we kind of made sure we had a third man high in the third and then we were pouncing on our chances.”
Cammalleri gave the Canadiens a short-lived 1-0 lead 5:50 in when his long wrist shot trickled past Garon for his fourth goal in three games.
Vermette tied it at 6:36 with his fifth goal when he finished off Nash’s nifty backhand pass through the crease.
Stralman, who also got an assist on Vermette’s goal, put Columbus ahead with an unassisted power-play goal at 8:16. Nash got his second straight assist when his pass from the right side struck a few sticks before it wound up at the feet of Stralman, who beat Price with a shot inside the left post.
NOTES: Garon spent parts of four seasons with Montreal from 2000-04 at the beginning of his career. … Canadiens RW James Wyman was also called up from Hamilton and made his NHL debut.