Subban, Montreal fans share tearful ovation before Habs pull off late win
Paul Byron scores with 9 seconds remaining to give Canadiens regulation win
The tears came even as P.K. Subban smiled and waved to the Bell Centre fans.
Tears streaked his cheeks as the former Canadiens defenceman got a long standing ovation before his first game back in Montreal as a Nashville Predator on Thursday night.
Chants of "P.K., P.K." filled the 21,000 seat arena as a video montage of his flashy moves on the ice as a Canadien from 2009 until he was dealt to Nashville last June 29. The Toronto native stood at the blue-line with his teammates for the pre-game tribute and soaked it all in.
And just when it looked like Montreal's scoring woes would continue, the Canadiens got goals from two slumping players to come from behind and extend their winning streak to four games.
Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher broke personal scoring slumps with timely third-period goals as the Canadiens defeated the visiting Nashville Predators 2-1 on Thursday.
Gallagher tied the game midway through the third period and Byron scored the winner with nine seconds left to play as the Habs spoiled Subban's return.
"It's a good feeling," said Gallagher, who had not scored in 11 games. "Everyone knows I haven't scored many goals this year. There's definitely a bit of relief. I'm aware I need to produce more and score more goals."
Montreal (36-21-8) netted just 21 goals in 13 games in February and it looked like that trend would carry through into March.
After two scoreless periods for the home side, Gallagher got the equalizer at 10:55 of the third when his wraparound shot deflected off defenceman Matt Irwin's skate and through Pekka Rinne's five-hole.
Then with time winding down in the game, Byron poked the puck away from Irwin in the neutral zone and chased it down the length of the ice on a breakaway. Rinne got his body on Byron's shot but the puck trickled past him — the winger's first goal in 14 games.
"I've been doing some really good things lately, and sometimes the puck just doesn't bounce your way," said Byron. "And you have to try not to stay frustrated and deviate from your game."
Carey Price made 24 saves for his 28th win of the season.
Ryan Ellis scored the lone goal for the Predators (32-23-9) before leaving the game with a lower-body injury. Rinne stopped 24 of 26 shots in defeat.
The loss is Nashville's first in regulation time in Montreal since Jan. 15, 2009 as Peter Laviolette's men saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
The Preds were dealt a major blow in the second when Ellis limped off the ice with a right leg injury and did not return. The defenceman was hurt battling for a loose puck with Montreal's Alexander Radulov on what appeared to be a harmless play.
Montreal is now 5-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.
"We talked about getting some secondary scoring and we got some tonight," said Julien. "Secondary scoring won us the game. When different people go out and give you those goals, that just makes us that much stronger."
Winger Dwight King, acquired by Montreal at the trade deadline, made his Canadiens debut. King, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with Los Angeles, played on the fourth line with Michael McCarron and Torrey Mitchell. He finished with five hits in 10:37.
New additions Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott and Brandon Davidson were healthy scratches.