|The Predators' Alexander Radulov congratulates teammate Radek Bonk after Bonk scored with 46.8 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime in Nashville's eventual 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in a shootout.
Nashville changed all of that in a hurry.
The Canadiens led 4-1 before David Legwand, Greg de Vries and Radek Bonk scored in the final 7:34 — Bonk got the tying goal with 46.8 seconds remaining in regulation. After a scoreless overtime, Nashville scored twice in the three-round shootout for an improbable 5-4 victory over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
“It was a good hockey game for the fans,” Bonk said. “Obviously, they would like Montreal to win. But it was entertaining hockey. In overtime, there were unbelievable chances on both sides. It was a great game and a great comeback for us. We never gave up. We came after those two points, and we got them.”
It was an extra-special night for Bonk, who is playing his first season in Nashville after spending the past two with Montreal. Nashville coach Barry Trotz used Bonk in the shootout for the very first time, and he latter and Martin Erat found the back of the net to help the Predators to their first victory ever in Montreal.
''Playing here, I thought it would be really good for him to get it going and throw someone different than we had been using,'' Trotz said.
Montreal opened the scoring 9:02 into the game when Christopher Higgins slapped a loose puck past Chris Mason for his 10th goal of the season. Mason’s night ended less than five minutes later, when Tomas Plekanec took a pass from Alexei Kovalev and let go a shot from the right side that found its way under Mason’s pad. The soft tally prompted Trotz to replace Mason with Dan Ellis.
Ellis was able to stop the bleeding for the remainder of the opening period, but Guillaume Latendresse scored the first of his two goals at 9:30 of the second period as the Canadiens grabbed a 3-0 lead.
Nashville finally got on the board 8:40 into the third period on a shorthanded tally by Jed Ortmeyer. But Latendresse scored again just over two minutes later to restore Montreal’s three-goal lead. Things were looking awfully bleak for the Predators with 9:19 to play.
But Legwand gave Nashville some life by scoring with 7:34 remaining, and de Vries made it 4-3 with 3:05 remaining with his second goal in as many games.
"The Ortmeyer goal got us going, but the de Vries goal was really the one where our guys decided we were going to do this," Trotz said.
With the Predators on a power play and Ellis pulled for an extra attacker, Bonk made the Nashville bench erupt when he beat Cristobal Huet to tie the game.
''There was a scramble and I really liked the fact that David Legwand had the smarts and the feel that there were a lot of people in that crease area and he threw it out to the point,'' Trotz said. ''(Marek) Zidlicky got it over to Bonk and he had great composure and made the move to get it around Huet.''
“It was a great play by Zidlicky, and I wanted to shoot, but Huet didn’t give me anything to shoot at so I had to make that move and it paid off,” Bonk said.
Bonk and Erat scored in the first two rounds of the shootout before Saku Koivu gave the Canadiens a chance when he beat Ellis in the second round. But after Alexander Radulov missed, Ellis sealed the deal when he poke-checked away Andrei Kostitsyn’s attempt.
''It was almost a desperation type of poke-check,'' Ellis said. ''He had sold me a little bit on that hard fake and I was just trying to get something out there to try to get a piece of it and he lost the puck. I don't think I even touched it, and it went into the corner. It turned out to be a good win for us.''
Meanwhile, Montreal continues to struggle. The Canadiens have lost four of their last five, with the only victory in that stretch coming on Tuesday in a shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
''The players that are supposed to do it for us right now are not doing it, and we can't keep losing leads like that in the third period, that's not normal,'' Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. ''I mean, it can happen once but it happens way too often right now.''
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.