Former Canadien Radek Bonk (helmeted, facing camera) celebrates his game-tying goal.
Phillip MacCallum, Getty Images
UPDATED at 9:15 am by Kevin Mio
Nothing is easy for the Canadiens. Like, a 3-0 lead.
Up by three on the Nashville Predators tonight with 7:34 left in regulation time, the Canadiens imploded, watching their visitors roar back and tie the game at 4-4 with 46.8 seconds to play on a goal by former Hab centreman Radek Bonk. According to Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, his key players aren’t getting the job done far too often, The Gazette’s Pat Hickey writes.
A spirited overtime, featuring a brilliant glove save by Nashville goalie Dan Ellis on Alex Kovalev, and J.P. Dumont ringing one off Cristobal Huet’s post on the rush back up ice, failed to decide matters.
So it went to a shootout. Bonk, again, and Martin Erat scored for the Predators, only captain Saku Koivu for the Canadiens, giving Nashville an improbable, crowd-deflating 5-4 victory. And they were deserving winners, having outshot the Habs 44-26.
The Canadiens employed an unusual set of lines formulated by head coach Guy Carbonneau, who tersely disputed their "ranking" in his post-game press conference. Listen to that here.
Montreal got on the scoreboard at 9:02 of the first period, Christopher Higgins banging home the rebound of first-linemate Alex Kovalev for his 10th goal of the season.
Tomas Plekanec made it 2-0 at 13:39 on just their sixth shot, backhanding home a harmless-looking shot from close range for his eighth of the year. That was all Predators coach Barry Trotz needed to see, giving starting goalie Chris Mason the hook and sending in Ellis, who arrived with a 5-0-0 record and a .932 save percentage.
Ellis, who signed with Nashville as a free agent last summer, played 31 games with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs in 2004-05, as property of the Dallas Stars.
Guillaume Latendresse put the Canadiens up by three at 9:30 of the second period, converting a nice pass from Kyle Chipchura on the backhand for his sixth of the season.
The Predators ended Cristobal Huet’s bid for a shutout at 8:40 of the third period, shorthanded, taking advantage of a bizarre bounce of the puck off the end boards. With Huet have strayed behind the goal to play
a shoot-in, the puck caromed crazily out front to Nashville’s Jed Ortmeyer, who slapped it home before Huet could get back into position.
Any momentum that might have given the Predators was quickly doused two minutes later by Latendresse, who rifled in his second of the night on a rebound off a shot by defenceman Roman Hamrlik. Chipchura had done industrious work to get the play started.
But the Predators got that one right back tat 12:26 o make it 4-2 and the comeback was in full flight, David Legwand being left to rap his own rebound past Huet at 12:56. And then Alexander Radulov closed the game to within one with a long wrist shot that eluded Huet at 16:55.
Bonk finally tied it in the final minute on the power play, Bryan Smolinski sent off for tripping at 18:10, sending the game into overtime.
The Canadiens’ life gets no easier. They return to action on home ice Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.