EditorsNote: Corrects Lindgren’s record in notes
Coyotes finally get elusive regulation win
MONTREAL — Coming into Thursday night’s matchup against the Montreal Canadiens, the Arizona Coyotes remained the only team in the NHL without a regulation win.
They ended the night with the elusive victory.
Christian Fischer scored the game-winning goal with 9:50 remaining as Arizona edged Montreal 5-4.
Fischer gave the Coyotes their third win of the season when his stick deflected a shot by Brendan Perlini.
Fischer’s goal capped a night when the Coyotes rallied from a 2-0 deficit and tied the game three times. About five minutes before Fischer scored, the Coyotes forged a 4-4 tie on Derek Stepan’s power-play goal.
Brad Richardson, Chrstian Dvoark and Tobias Rieder scored in the second period for Arizona
Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron scored in the first period for Montreal. Joe Morrow and Shea Weber tallied in the second for the Canadiens.
The first period saw the Habs taking advantage of the Coyotes defensive shortcomings, something head coach Rick Tocchet addressed after the first frame.
“I’ve got to give the guys a lot of credit,” Tocchet said. “In the last 40, there was fights, there was penalties, there was guys blocking shots. There was a little bit of everything tonight. That’s what you have to do to win.”
After taking the early lead, Montreal appeared to relax.
“We kind of fell back into some old habits where we get sloppy, and took our foot off the gas pedal,” Gallagher said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing in the NHL. If you’re not playing the way that the Montreal Canadiens need to play in order to win hockey games, we’re not going to have success.”
Gallagher scored his eighth goal on a backhand with 9:12 remaining in the opening period and three minutes later Alex Galchenyuk and Byron created a two-on-one rush thanks to an ill-timed pinch by Arizona’s Jason Demers.
Galchenyuk set up Byron for his fifth goal of the season, making it 2-0 Montreal.
The second period featured five goals but started with a fight between Montreal’s Nicolas Deslauriers and Arizona tough guy Zac Rinaldo.
On a 4-on-4, Richardson fired the puck on Charlie Lindgren from the high slot, beating the Montreal netminder five hole, and cutting the Canadiens’ lead in half early in the second period.
Nearly halfway through the second, with Weber in the box serving a delay-of-game penalty, Dvorak roofed the puck, beating Lindgren top shelf to tie the game with his third of the season.
Lindgren made a show-stopping save on a Clayton Keller attempt late in the second, allowing the Canadiens to rush up the ice in the other direction, and create a scoring opportunity on the same shift. Morrow then fired the puck past Antti Raanta and into the back of the net for a 3-2 lead with 4:40 remaining in the second.
“At the time, I thought it could have been a real turning point,” Lindgren said of the play. “Give that Arizona team credit. I mean, they’re a highly skilled, young team. They can skate. It’s a really tough loss as well.”
Montreal’s lead was short-lived however, Rieder ripped a shot from the hashmarks on Lindgren in the final minute of the second, evening the score at 3-3.
Weber broke the deadlock 30 seconds later by rocketing a shot past Raanta.
Gallagher took a tripping penalty and the Coyotes quickly capitalized on Stepan’s unassisted power-play goal 4:54 into the third.
“For whatever reason, the puck’s been allergic to me,” Stepan said. “I haven’t seemed to find that bounce that I got tonight on my goal. It’s never easy when you’re going through a rough drought, especially when your team’s losing. You want to do anything you can to help win. Yeah, you beat yourself up, but it’s a relief to finally find out in the back of the net.”
NOTES: Canadiens G Charlie Lindgren made his sixth start of the season on Thursday, falling to 3-2-1. ... G Antti Niemi donned a Habs jersey for the first time, after being claimed off of waivers by Montreal on Tuesday. The Canadiens are Niemi’s sixth NHL team, and third this season. ... The Coyotes are led in scoring by C Clayton Keller, who has 11 goals and six assists so far in his rookie season. Keller had the secondary assist on RW Christian Fischer’s game-winning power-play goal. ... LW Christian Dvorak had his second multipoint game of the season, and first since Nov. 2.