MONTREAL (AP)The Montreal Canadiens broke out for a four-goal second period and held on for a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night despite a third-period hat trick from Matt Duchene.
Montreal snapped its four-game losing skid, backed by two goals from Ryan Poehling, and tallies from Artturi Lehkonen, Christian Dvorak, Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli.
Toffoli, Jonathan Drouin and Chris Wideman picked up two assists each for the Canadiens, while Samuel Montembeault allowed three goals on 36 shots.
Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme thought his team returned to its roots of playing a solid game without being too flashy.
”We were engaged in what we wanted to do, we were a lot sharper mentally and it showed in the way we executed,” Ducharme said. ”Sometimes execution is not complicated, it’s not about making highlight-reel passes and plays. It’s just about being strong enough mentally to make good decisions, stick with the plan and to be confident that in the long run it’s going to pay off.”
The Canadiens, who play at Washington, Buffalo and Pittsburgh on the upcoming road trip, remain among the bottom feeders in the NHL. But Ducharme hopes the win triggers a consistent string of successes.
”Now, we need to bring it to another level and give ourselves a chance,” he said. ”Even if nobody believes it, we need to give ourselves a chance to get back in the race.”
Duchene scored his three goals in less than 10 minutes for the Predators, who pulled goalie Juuse Saros in the second period after allowing five goals on 19 shots. David Rittich blocked all nine shots in relief.
”In the third period, we wound up scoring on the power play and it gave us a chance to get in, but we gotta be better and more consistent,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. ”We didn’t get rewarded for what we probably deserved in the first and then made some ill-advised plays in the second and we paid for it.”
Nashville had an extended three-day break due the postponement of their matchup with Ottawa, which has a COVID-19 outbreak.
”We should’ve come out and have a lot of energy,” said the Predators’ Roman Josi, who had an assist. ”Montreal played Thursday so that’s definitely not an excuse. If anything, it should have helped us tonight.”
Lehkonen broke the ice 2:41 into the game, recovering the puck in Saros’ crease and tapping it in. Montreal doubled its lead at the start of the second period when Josh Anderson made a no-look backhand pass for Dvorak.
Gallagher made it 3-0 for the Habs on the power play at 3:32. Then Poehling notched two consecutive goals in the span of 37 seconds for Montreal’s fourth and fifth unanswered goals of the night at 9:31 and 10:08 to complete the four-goal second period.
Duchene scored power-play goals at 6:36 and 12:53 of the third period before completing his hat trick at even strength with three and a half minutes left to bring the Predators within two.
But the Preds pulled their goalie, and Toffoli sealed the win with an empty-netter.
Predators: Host Anaheim on Monday night.
Canadiens: At Washington on Wednesday night.