Paul Byron scores winner with 9 seconds to go as Canadiens spoil Subban’s return
Montreal Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher scores past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during third period NHL hockey action, in Montreal on Thursday, March 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.
MONTREAL — Paul Byron scored with nine seconds left to play as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the visiting Nashville Predators 2-1 on Thursday in P.K. Subban’s first game against Montreal since being traded last summer.
Brendan Gallagher also scored for Montreal (36-21-8). Carey Price made 24 saves as the Canadiens extended their winning streak to four games.
Ryan Ellis scored the lone goal for the Predators (32-23-9) before leaving the game with a lower-body injury. Pekka Rinne stopped 24 of 26 shots in defeat.
Byron poked the puck away from Matt Irwin in the neutral zone and chased it down the length of the ice on a breakaway with time running out in the third period. Rinne got his body on Byron’s shot but the puck trickled past him.
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 Canadiens paid tribute to Subban with a video montage before puck drop. A teary-eyed Subban acknowledged the crowd during a lengthy standing ovation.
The former Habs defenceman only needed a few shifts to get on the score sheet against his former team. With the Predators playing with the man advantage, Subban passed the puck to Ellis, who fired a slap shot from the point past Price to make it 1-0 for the visitors at 18:25 of the first.
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’s scoring woes continued into the month of March after netting just 22 goals in 13 games in February.
After two scoreless periods for the home side, Gallagher got the Canadiens on the board when his wraparound shot deflected off defenceman Irwin’s skate and through Rinne’s five-hole at 10:55 of the third — Gallagher’s first goal in 11 games.
Montreal is now 5-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.
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.
New additions Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott and Brandon Davidson were healthy scratches.
Notes: The Canadiens beat the Predators 2-1 in overtime in Nashville on Jan. 3. Subban missed that game with a back injury.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press
This news article is kindly supported by the Voice of English-speaking Québec 2017 SpringFest 5 @ 7.
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