Monahan’s goal in OT leads Flames over Canadiens
MONTREAL — When Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau gets the puck in overtime, his teammates know there’s a good chance they are going to see something special.
He didn’t disappoint on Thursday, setting up Sean Monahan for his second goal of the game at 1:14 of overtime to give the Flames a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens, ending Calgary’s three-game losing streak.
Garnet Hathaway scored his first of the season for the Flames (15-12-2) and goaltender David Rittich, making the second start of his career, made 35 saves.
Daniel Carr (second goal of the season) and Phillip Danault (fifth) scored for the Canadiens (13-13-4) and Carey Price made 34 saves as the Canadiens lost their second game in a row.
“If you watch the bench when Johnny had the puck going down, the whole bench stood up,” said Hathaway, whose controversial first goal of the season had tied the game 2-2. “You know Johnny is going to make a play and (Monahan) doesn’t miss from there.”
Gaudreau showed a lot of patience on the right wing as Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie drove for the net and Monahan popped into the top of the slot. He took Gaudreau’s pass and put in the top corner on the stick side for his 25th game-winning goal.
“When that play was going on, I’m just hoping that Johnny is going to make the play over to TJ, I believe I was and I was ‘C’mon, make it, make it, make it,’” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “All of sudden (Monahan) out of nowhere is there and I’m like, ‘okay, that’s better,’ and then it goes in. You can’t give him that much time in the slot. He’s so lethal there.”
The Flames are 6-2 in overtime this season and played beyond regulation time for the second night in a row after losing 2-1 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. The Flames finished their two-game road trip with three out of four points. It was their third win in their past nine games (3-4-2).
“When we get to OT, we’re confident and I think we showed that again tonight. It’s a big win,” said Monahan, who sensed something good was going to happen when Gaudreau got the puck. “It’s nice to see when he has the puck coming down the wing there and there’s no one behind. Johnny is a great player and it’s always a treat to be out there with him.”
“At the end of the day, those guys, even if you don’t see them much, they don’t need much to make something happen,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “That’s what you saw from those guys. They still managed to get a couple of goals and it wasn’t because they dominated against the players they were playing against. Whenever they got an opportunity, they made the most of it.”
Carr and Danault gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead after two periods. Monahan opened the scoring with his 16th of the season in the first period.
Hathaway and his linemates on the fourth line, Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski, buzzed around the Montreal net before Hathaway was credited with the goal that tied it 2-2 at 7:49 of the third period.
Hathaway dug at the puck and both the puck and Price wound up in the net. Referee Steve Kozari waved the goal off and announced there was incidental contact with Price.
Gulutzan then used his coach’s challenge, claiming there was no goalie interference. After reviewing the play, Kozari announced it was a goal.
“We were looking at it right away,” Gulutzan said, crediting video coach Jamie Pringle for pushing for the challenge. “Right way, we were, ‘that’s a goal.’ We wanted to let them make their call and when they came over, when (referee Chris Rooney) came over, I asked what’s the call on the ice — I wanted to make sure there was no whistle infractions, the whistle went or anything like that — and he said call on the ice was goalie interference, and we knew right away that puck was in early, so we challenged it.”
Julien chose to look at the circumstances leading up to the goal.
“We lost a lot of battles along the wall, around the net area and that’s what cost us the goal,” he said. “This is what we have to get better at. It’s an ongoing thing with our team to get better in those areas.”
Price, 5-2-0 since returning after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury, credited the Flames.
“I thought we played a pretty good game tonight. We did a lot of good things,” he said. “That team over there was resilient. Their goaltender played well for them and they found a way to win.”
Rittich, a 25-year-old native of the Czech Republic whose idol is Canadiens great Patrick Roy, picked up his second career win.
“That kid is a fantastic kid,” Gulutzan said. “He’s a battler and that’s what you need in these back-to-backs. I’m really happy for him. We did a good job, but he made some big saves. A guy puts in that much work, you’re happy for him.”
NOTES: Calgary LW Matthew Tkachuk sat out against Montreal on Thursday as he served a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday in the Flames’ 2-1 shootout loss. Tkachuk poked at Toronto forward Matt Martin with his stick from the bench. Tkachuk forfeited $11,280.49. ... Calgary RW Jaromir Jagr missed his second game in a row after aggravating a lower body injury he sustained Nov. 25. ... Montreal C Jonathan Drouin, recovered from his lower-body injury after missing three games, did not play against the Flames because of illness. ... Also injured for the Canadiens were RW Ales Hemsky (concussion), LW Artturi Lehkonen (lower body), G Al Montoya (concussion) and RW Nikita Scherbak (knee). ... Canadiens D Victor Mete, 19, was scratched for the third time in eight games and is a candidate to be sent to play for Canada at the World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo.