The Montreal Canadiens battled their way to a 3-2 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
Rem Pitlick scored the winner in the extra frame with a wicked wrist shot that beat Ilya Samsonov on the short side.
Toronto came roaring out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, with goals from Mark Giordano and Calle Jarnkrok. The Habs came out of the intermission with some fire in their bellies, tying the game in the second frame with tallies from Josh Anderson and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.
Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault shut the door on the Maple Leafs down the stretch, turning away 36 of 38 shots for the win.
Anderson LOVES scoring against the Leafs
Anderson recorded his 14th goal of the season to get the Canadiens on the board with a sweet one-timer off a feed from Nick Suzuki.
The snipe marks Anderson's 50th goal as a Canadien, and his eighth against the Maple Leafs since he was traded to Montreal in October 2020. One of his five career playoff goals also came against Toronto in 2021.
In 28 career games against Toronto, Anderson has notched 11 goals and 14 points.
The 28-year-old enjoyed a dominant performance at the Bell Centre, filling in on the top line in place of Cole Caufield, who will miss the rest of the 2022-23 season after suffering a shoulder injury.
Matthews' goal streak comes to an end
Auston Matthews entered Saturday's contest on a four-game goal streak, having scored five times in that span. The Canadiens managed to keep the Leafs superstar off the scoresheet, limiting him to only one assist and a minus-1 rating in 19:51 of ice time.
Matthews only directed three shots on goal, with Montembeault extending his right pad to stop a juicy rebound in the second period.
Matthews is tied with William Nylander for the team lead in goals with 24.
Montembeault standing strong in net
Montembeault entered the season as the clear backup to veteran netminder Jake Allen. But since the latter's injury in early January, Montembeault has carried the heavy load of backstopping the struggling Canadiens, and has largely excelled.
In the five games prior to Saturday's contest, the 26-year-old averaged a .962 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average, with a five-goal stinker against the Florida Panthers the only bad performance in that span.
The 2015 third-round pick stood on his head once more against the Leafs, making 36 stops and robbing Toronto's stars at point-blank range on a number of occasions.
While Montembeault is sure to garner some interest around the league as goaltending insurance for a contender, the Canadiens' front office seems to count him in their long-term plans as they look for some stability in the crease with Carey Price unlikely to ever return to play.
"We want to keep him, he's doing really well lately and he's still a young goaltender in the NHL," general manager Kent Hughes said on Wednesday. "It's tough to think we can predict Sam's future with a small sample size, but we obviously see he's got a certain potential."
Canadiens call-ups making a difference
The Canadiens' infirmary is currently bursting at the seams, with as many as 10 players out injured. The bad luck on the health front has forced the front office to call up some reinforcements from the AHL's Laval Rocket, and the selections have paid off so far.
Players who have spent time in the minors this season combined for five points between them on Saturday, with recent call-up Pitlick notching the winning goal in overtime. Harvey-Pinard — one of the Rocket's leading scorers with 25 points in 37 games — scored his first NHL goal of the season to tie the game at two, with fellow fill-ins Michael Pezzetta and Alex Belzile each registering a helper.
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