NEW YORK (AP) — Andrew Hammond made 30 saves and stopped two of three shootout attempts, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 win against the New York Islanders on Sunday.
It was Hammond’s first regular-season start since March 28, 2018, and first NHL regular-season win since April 9, 2016, when he backstopped the Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win against the Boston Bruins.
“It’s not luck that he is back here,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said of Hammond’s return to the NHL. “Sometimes a lot of guys might just give up and to see a guy stick with it, to get an opportunity 3 1/2 years after his last start in the NHL and play the way he did, gave our team a chance to win, it’s much respect to him.”
Cole Caufield and Rem Pitlick scored in the shootout and Montreal won its second straight with St. Louis behind the bench. Jeff Petry and Josh Anderson scored in regulation for the Canadiens.
“There’s just good energy,” defenseman Ben Chiarot said of the change since St. Louis took over. “He’s got everyone motivated and excited to play. … Guys are seeing success, we are getting more touches, more offensive chances and less breakdowns. He’s got us playing good hockey.”
Kyle Palmieri and Brock Nelson scored for New York and Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves.
Caufield answered Anthony Beauvillier’s successful shootout maneuver with a five-hole attempt in the first round and Pitlick converted a nifty backhand, forehand combination to push Montreal past New York.
“It hasn’t been the season we wanted, but there’s a tremendous amount of pride,” Pitlick said. “It’s cool that we could all pull it together, especially for (Hammond).”
Nelson tied the game 2-2 late in the third period. Kieffer Bellows tipped the puck and allowed Nelson to get behind the Canadiens defense and send a wrist shot through Hammond’s legs at 17:03. Sebastian Aho also assisted on the equalizer.
Anderson gave Montreal a 2-1 lead after he fired a wrist shot over the blocker of Sorokin at 18:49 of the second period. It was the second straight game where Sorokin was beat from a sharp angle on the short side. Nick Suzuki and Caufield assisted on the goal.
“We just got to play a straight-line hockey game, get people to the net,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Make good decisions with the puck and play a 200-foot game. If we do that, we will have success, if we don’t, we’ll have limited success.”
The Islanders goalie made a timely left pad save on Caufield after a turnover midway through the third period to keep the deficit at one, which gave New York an opportunity to tie the game.
Petry opened the scoring at 9:01 of the first period. The veteran defenseman took advantage of traffic at the top of the crease and his shot from the point trickled through the legs of Sorokin to give Montreal a 1-0 advantage. Brett Kulak and Ryan Poehling assisted.
“We actually had some decent shifts to start and just one ended up finding its way in our net early and that’s a little deflating,” Palmieri said. “But it’s up to us to kind of just go right back after it.”
Palmieri scored his fourth of the season to even the score at 1-1 early in the second period. Josh Bailey set up Zach Parise in front for a deflection opportunity with a no-look pass from the half wall and Palmieri buried the rebound on a backhand at 1:29.
FORMER ISLANDERS WIN GOLD
Finland won Olympic gold in men’s hockey for the first time in the nation’s history, defeating ROC 2-1 in Beijing. Former Islanders Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula helped Finland win six straight games including a three-goal comeback against Sweden in the preliminary round.
Montreal acquired Hammond from the Minnesota Wild earlier this month. He was 6-2-3 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League this season. His previous NHL regular-season win came against the Boston Bruins on April 9, 2016.
Beauvillier is the only active Quebec native on the Islanders roster. A native of Sorel-Tracy, QC, the 24-year-old forward had 16:48 TOI Sunday. He also had three assists the previous time these teams met in November.
Islanders: visit Seattle Kraken on Tuesday to begin five-game road trip.
Canadiens: host Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
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