MONTREAL (AP) — Carey Price went from dejection to jubilation in a matter of minutes.
Price and the Montreal Canadiens squandered a two-goal lead late in the third period, but Tomas Tatar scored in the fourth round of a shootout for a 5-4 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.
Vegas scored twice in the final two minutes to force overtime with Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench for the extra skater. When Price conceded the equalizer to Reilly Smith with 8 seconds left in regulation, he smashed his stick in anger.
After an end-to-end overtime, Price stopped Smith with his pad in the fourth round of the shootout for the victory. The Canadiens goaltender jumped, raised his arms and swarmed his teammates in celebration.
“It was important for (Price) to win that game,” coach Claude Julien said. “That was all that mattered to him. It’s frustrating that they scored twice in the final two minutes. It wasn’t pretty, but it was exciting. We got two points and we’ll take it.”
Max Pacioretty scored against his former team with a shot from the blue line through traffic with 1:57 left in regulation before Smith tipped Paul Stastny’s shot past Price.
“(Vegas) was carrying a lot of momentum at the end of that game,” said Price, who made 31 stops for his fourth consecutive victory. “They were making a push. We pushed back well in the overtime and found a way to do it in the shootout.”
Nick Cousins scored twice, and Ilya Kovalchuk and Joel Armia each scored once for the Canadiens (22-21-7), who have won four of their last five games.
Jonathan Marchessault, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty and Smith each scored for the Golden Knights (25-20-6) in their second game under new coach Peter DeBoer. Fleury stopped 28 shots.
“We’re getting off to slow starts and teams are capitalizing,” said Smith, who has 20 goals this season. “We have to find a away to turn that around. It’s too hard to come back in every game.”
Down 4-2, Vegas scored twice in the game’s final two minutes to force overtime with Fleury on the bench for an extra skater.
Fleury made highlight-reel saves on Phillip Danault and Kovalchuk on odd-man rushes in overtime to force the shootout, where Kovalchuk and Tatar scored.
Montreal took a commanding 3-0 lead on nine shots after the first 20 minutes.
The Canadiens went ahead at 5:51 on Cousins’ sixth of the year. Weise sent a backhand pass from behind the net to Cousins, who slid the puck under Fleury’s outstretched pad.
Kovalchuk was coming off a two-goal performance in Montreal’s 4-1 victory in Philadelphia on Thursday, and the 36-year-old scored his fourth in a Canadiens uniform at 12:33. Fleury denied Kovalchuk’s initial shot in close but he couldn’t stop the Russian’s second effort.
The goal was Kovalchuk’s first at the Bell Centre since 2011. His first three goals since joining Montreal came on the road.
The Canadiens went up 3-0 when Armia deflected Brett Kulak’s shot and beat Fleury between the pads for his career-high 13th of the season.
The Golden Knights scored twice in the second period. Unguarded, Marchessault tallied from the slot on a pass from Smith from behind the net at 9:08.
Ben Chiarot and Armia were unable to clear their crease and the veteran Stastny jammed a loose puck past Price to make it 3-2 at 14:47.
Cousins scored his second of the game on a 2-on-1 with Weise at 9:40 of the third to give Montreal a 4-2 advantage. Fleury overcommitted to the shot, and Weise passed to Cousins for his seventh of the season.
“We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey,” Price said. “If we can continue to do that and understand what’s making us successful, we have to carry that momentum after the break.”
NOTES: The Golden Knights are 1-4-1 in their last six games. … Pacioretty remains winless against his former team (0-1-2). … This was the Canadiens’ last game ahead of their bye week. … Montreal is 10-12-4 at home.
Vegas: Plays at Carolina on Jan. 31.
Montreal: Hosts Washington on Monday, Jan. 27.
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