After a slow start, the goals are coming in bunches for Mike Cammalleri
Cammalleri's third goal of the night at 2:42 of overtime gave the Montreal Canadiens their third consecutive victory, 5-4 over the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Cammalleri tied the game with 1:02 remaining in the second period, blasting a shot past Henrik Lundqvist from the slot to cap Montreal's two-goal comeback. Following a scoreless third period, Cammalleri beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot to complete his hat trick and even the Canadiens' record at 5-5-0.
"He just beat me, fair and square," said Lundqvist, who made 26 saves, including a pair in the extra period. "When you give a player like that time and space, it's tough."
Cammalleri said getting his first hat trick in a Montreal uniform made this a game to remember.
"It's a special night," he said. "It's early in my career with Montreal and it was a Saturday night -- I won't underplay that."
The former Calgary Flame, who signed with Montreal during the summer, was scoreless in his first six games with Montreal. He now has five goals in his last four games and leads the team with 11 points in 10 games..
"When the puck wasn't going in it was frustrating," Cammalleri said. "I felt that if I'd got some, we could have got some wins, so it's good that they're going in now."
The Rangers (7-3-1) lost for the third straight game and have blown two-goal leads in two of them, leaving coach John Tortorella very displeased.
He benched center Brandon Dubinsky and forward Chris Higgins for the entire third period. Higgins, who has only two assists in 11 games, was playing his first game in Montreal since he was traded to the Rangers on June 30.
"There was a turnover by Dubinsky in the neutral zone and we can't have that," Tortorella said. "It was a huge momentum swing.
"Higgins is a guy we've been patient with and there was a penalty (which gave Montreal a two-man advantage in the second) and then the backcheck on (Cammalleri's second goal). If you aren't producing offensively, then you've got to do other things. We're going to go with the guys who do things to help us win."
The Canadiens came out flying and needed just 4:16 to grab the lead thanks to a great individual effort by Brian Gionta. The former Devil carried through the left circle and was knocked down as he headed for the net. But while sliding on his stomach, Gionta swatted a pass to Cammalleri, who dunked it past Lundqvist inside the post.
But after being outshot 5-1 in the early going, the Rangers took charge, quieting the sellout crowd with three goals in less than 10 minutes.
Rookie Artem Anisimov tied it at 9:22, picking up the rebound of Michal Rozsival's point shot, stepping to the left of Jaroslav Halak and from near the goal line, whipping a high shot that caught the top corner.
Ales Kotalik put the Rangers ahead at 14:42, racing down the slot to convert a passout from Sean Avery after Dan Girardi sent the puck from the right point behind the net.
Another rookie, defenseman Matt Gilroy, made it 3-1 at 19:02 with a blast from the right point that went through traffic and past Halak. Marian Gaborik started the play by controlling the puck in the corner to Halak's right, then slipped it to Vaclav Prospal on the half-wall. Gilroy took a feed from Prospal, moved slightly to his left and scored.
Matt D'Agostini made it 3-2 at 8:48 of the second, but Gaborik restored the Rangers' two-goal lead by beating Halak with a short backhander on a breakaway at 11:56.
However, the Rangers got themselves in penalty trouble later in the period, and Montreal capitalized on a 5-on-3 advantage at 15:26 when Marc-Andre Bergeron beat Lundqvist with a one-timer from the slot. With the Rangers reeling, Cammalleri came late down the slot and fired home Tomas Plekanec's pass to tie the game.
"When you have a game going your way, you don't beat yourself and that's what we did," Tortorella said.
--John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report