Laine scores with :08 left, Blue Jackets edge Canadiens 2-1
MONTREAL (AP) — Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins had to admit Patrik Laine’s shot that gave Columbus a late victory over the Montreal Canadiens was impressive.
Laine scored a power-play goal with :08 left in regulation as the Blue Jackets posted a 2-1 Saturday, extending the Canadiens’ winless streak to nine games.
“I’m going to be honest, I’ve never seen something like that in my life,” Merzlikins said of Laine’s one-timer from the left circle. “No chance even if we would both be in that net. That was a powerful and accurate shot. That was something crazy.”
Laine also had an assist on Oliver Bjorkstad’s goal 76 seconds into the game and Merzlikins made 30 saves as the Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game.
Laine extended his scoring streak to six games (seven goals, five assists), the best Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen has seen the Finnish forward play.
“You could notice it in practice and coming out of the (All-Star) break,” Larsen said. “They start to score and things just seem to start clicking and what has come so natural to him for so long you start to see it at the highest level in the game. And that’s neat to see with a guy of his calibre with how he can fire the puck and how dangerous he can be.”
Cole Caufield tied game for Montreal early in the third period with his third goal of the season. Samuel Montembeault had 37 saves as interim coach Martin St. Louis lost his second straight game.
It was the Blue Jackets’ second victory at the Bell Centre in 14 days, and six in their last seven games overall.
“First of all we’re not in a good spot, we’re not in the playoffs right now but we’re working hard and it’s obviously nice to get wins,” Laine said.
Jeff Petry took a tripping penalty with 1:27 left in regulation, opening the door for Columbus’ game-winner. Laine scored a one-timer off a pass from Zach Werenski.
Despite the untimely call, St. Louis was supportive of the veteran defenseman.
“I think in any walks of life, you can do anything right and still get it wrong,” St. Louis said. “I think Petry’s doing a lot of good things out there right now and I think that somehow something bad happens for him.
St. Louis, 46, was facing the team he’d previously worked for as a special teams consultant in 2018-19.
Columbus got going early. Ben Chiarot’s clearance attempt deflected off Laine and onto Bjorkstrand’s stick. The Dane skated towards the slot, bounced the puck off of Alexander Romanov and beat Montembeault with the fourth shot of the game.
After a scoreless second period, Caufield took advantage of a defensive mistake to score in a second consecutive game.
Vladislav Gavrikov gave the puck away to Chiarot along the boards. The defenseman found Caufield in the high slot who shocked Merzlikins.
NOTES: The Canadiens acquired G Andrew Hammond from Minnesota and sent F Brandon Baddock to the Wild. Hammond has a 6-2-3 record with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League this season, posting a 2.44 goals-against average with a .908 save percentage.
Blue Jackets: At Dallas Sunday.
Canadiens: Host Buffalo Sunday.
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