Canadiens Tomas Plekanec grabs a loose puck before scoring team’s first goal on Kings’ Jonathan Quick Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre. Andre Ringuette, Getty Images
With two minutes to play in the game Saturday afternoon, it looked like the Canadiens were headed to their fifth straight loss. But that is when the Canadiens woke up and put an end to their longest losing streak in two years with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Trailing 3-2, Christopher Higgins scored a beautiful goal – his first since Nov. 26 and only his sixth of the season – when he went around Kings defenceman Drew Doughty and beat goatender Jonathan Quick with a shot to the top corner.
Then, with only 23 seconds to play and the Canadiens on a power play, Quick couldn’t control an Andrei Markov shot and eventually pushed it into his own net to give the Canadiens the 4-3 lead. Saku Koivu was credited with the goal.
Had the Canadiens lost Saturday, the streak could have reached six games with the powerful Boston Bruins coming to town on Sunday for Super Bowl Sunday.
The loss was the first one in four games for the Kings and extended their streak of futility against the Canadiens. Since the two teams faced each other in the Stanley Cup final in 1993, the Kings have only beat the Canadiens one time.
Once again, the Canadiens gave up the first goal when Michal Handzus scored into a wide open net on the power play 4:57 into the game when he was left alone at the mouth of the crease.
The goal came only moments after the Kings had a goal disallowed after it was hit with a high stick by Derek Armstrong.
But the Candiens responded with the next two goals and had a 2-1 lead until about seven minutes were left in the second period.
Tomas Plekanec, with his first point in seven games, tied the game 1-1 when Quick couldn’t handle a shot from the point and Plekanec pounced on the rebound and slid the puck behind Quick.
Less than four minutes into the second period, the Canadiens grabbed a 2-1 lead when Andrei Kostitsyn scored his 17th of season with the Canadiens enjoying a 5-on-3 man advantage.
That two-man advantage came after Denis Gauthier was ejected from the game after a vicious hit to the head of Josh Gorges.
Gorges was carrying the puck into the Kings zone during a Canadiens power play when Gauthier left his feet and elbowed Gorges in the face.
At first it look like Gorges was out cold, but he did get back to his feet under his own steam and returned to the game later in the period, but he was held out for the third period and it’s easy to imagine the defenceman has suffered some form of concussion.
Gauthier, who has a history of hits to the head, was given a five-minute major penalty for charging and was ejected from the game.
Trailing 2-1, the Kings never let up and scored two goals before the second period was up, both of bad turnover by the Canadiens.
Dustin Brown scored his 20th of the goal on a nice pass from Kyle Calder after Patrice Brisebois couldn’t clear the front of the net to tie the game 2-2.
And wih less than two minutes to play in the second, Jarret Stoll gave the Kings a 3-2 lead after a pass attempt by Gorges was intercepted.
The Canadiens were outshot 32-26 and Carey Price came up with several big saves that kept his team in the game long enough for them to mount the comeback.
And Max Pacioretty, who returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Panthers, got into his first NHL fight when he tangled with Wayne Simmonds.