Canadiens drop 6th in a row as Blue Jackets stifle comeback effort, put on offensive showcase
Montreal's Lehkonen, Toffoli, Suzuki all score in defeat
Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen admitted his side needed to be careful heading into Sunday's game against the Montreal Canadiens, which Columbus won 6-3 in Montreal.
The Canadiens had just been thumped 7-2 by the Edmonton Oilers the night before and Larsen knew his players needed to be wary.
"It was a little bit of a scary game," he said. "The focus was on us and getting a good start. They got the early one but then from there I think we had a really good first period. Some good forecheck and obviously we were finishing, which is great."
Patrik Laine, with two, Jack Roslovic, Eric Robinson, Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger scored for the Blue Jackets (20-21-1). Joonas Korpisalo made 32 saves and Gustav Nyquist had two assists.
Columbus recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 26.
WATCH | Blue Jackets dazzle on offence in win over Canadiens:
Down 4-1 the Canadiens (8-29-7) attempted a comeback with goals from Artturi Lehkonen and Tyler Toffoli but a third-period goal from 18 year-old Sillinger quelled Montreal's momentum.
"I got thrown out there with Boone [Jenner] and Patty [Laine]," Sillinger said. "I just saw an opening and that's what we're focusing on. It's not passing up any opportunity, so I saw that opportunity and shot. It was nice to see that go in."
Added Laine of Sillinger's goal: "It was great, we were playing short-handed for a minute and they were just running around and had a lot of chances. It was a big step back for Montreal and a huge goal for us. Cole, he did what he had to do to put it in the back of the net and give us a little bit of security."
Larsen thought his young centreman had a slow start to the game but as it progressed, helped his team retain all two points. Sillinger not only scored an important goal for his side but also left an empty-net opportunity for Laine, who bagged a second goal in the game.
"I felt like it was a big moment for him to score and then he makes a play on the empty-netter, but he's gonna be a good player," Larsen said. "This is a tough league at centre at 18 years old.
"He's got the right mindset and he's really got a feel for when a game starts to ramp up. His competitiveness and intensity get better."
'Everyone needs to do their job'
Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme pulled his starting goaltender from the game for the third straight contest.
Samuel Montembeault gave up three goals on seven shots. Cayden Primeau made 26 saves in relief.
Montreal remained last in the standings as the team enters its all-star break. The league-worst Canadiens have dropped six games in a row, conceding 33 goals over that stretch.
"We obviously would've liked to end on a different note but it will be good to have some time," Ducharme said. "Maybe we'll have players back after the break. We'll see, but that can be a positive."
Laine tied the game up 1-1 at 3:51 — his first of the contest — using Alexander Romanov as a screen to notch a swift wrist shot from the face-off circle.
Roslovic then surprised Montembeault at 8:39 with a top-corner shot, giving Columbus its first lead of the night.
Columbus finished its productive first period when Chinakhov zoomed past Cale Klague and beat Primeau with his fifth goal of the year.
Montreal cut the deficit to two goals with 41 seconds to go in the second period. Lehkonen found Toffoli on a one-timer to give the Habs a fighting chance at a comeback.
Lehkonen wasn't done there and grabbed a short-handed goal of his own 6:55 into the third. The Finn tapped in a saucer pass from Jake Evans to bring the Habs one goal away.
But the Canadiens would not get any closer.
Sillinger shifted momentum back on Columbus with a wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 9:58 of the third before Laine added the empty-netter.