Saku Koivu’s first game back in Montreal began with a heart-warming, name-chanting tribute – and nearly ended in heartbreak.
The longtime captain of the Canadiens could only sit and watch from the penalty box as Max Pacioretty jammed a rebound past Jonas Hiller with 12.6 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at 3.
But for the second time in three games, Bobby Ryan saved the day. Using the same forehand move on Carey Price that he used four days earlier to win a game in Ottawa, Ryan scored the only goal of the shootout, and Jonas Hiller stopped all three Canadiens attempts on the other end, to give the Ducks the win.
Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored power-play goals in regulation, and Ryan scored at even strength, to give Anaheim (27-20-4) a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Goals by Pacioretty – his second of the game – and Mathieu Darche allowed the Habs to tie the game in a third period that saw them outshoot the Ducks 23-5.
Hiller, who made 37 saves, was his usual outstanding self in a head-to-head matchup with Price. By getting the win, Hiller matched Price for the NHL lead with 24 wins.
With one stop left (Tuesday in Columbus) on a four-game road trip, the Ducks have collected four of a possible six points to move into a tie with Nashville for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
A few more notes:
Koivu was awarded the second star of the game, earning a nice round of applause from the announced sellout crowd of 21,273. Koivu’s night was highlighted by an assist on Perry’s second-period goal, but he also collected three minor penalties and finished 14-13 in the faceoff circle.
Another former Canadien had arguably a better night for the Ducks. Maxim Lapierre went 8-1 in the circle and logged four hits in 14:22, playing the pest and hearing as many boos as Koivu heard cheers. A native of nearby St. Leonard, Lapierre returned to Montreal for the first time since he was acquired from the Habs on Dec. 31.
In the 22nd (and possibly final) game of his career against Montreal, Teemu Selanne had two assists, giving him 683 in his career. That puts him in a tie with former Rangers/Bruins/Red Wings defenseman Brad Park for 54th on the all-time list.
Andreas Lilja returned to the lineup after two games as a healthy scratch, played 22:48 and blocked a team-high six shots.