Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Montreal Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli moves in on Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo during the second period in Montreal on Jan. 30, 2022. The Blue Jackets won 6-3.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen admitted his side needed to be careful heading into Sunday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, which Columbus won 6-3.

The Canadiens had just been thumped 7-2 by the Edmonton Oilers the night before and Larsen knew his players needed to be wary.

“It was a little bit of a scary game,” he said. “The focus was on us and getting a good start. They got the early one but then from there I think we had a really good first period. Some good forecheck and obviously we were finishing, which is great.”

Nick Suzuki scored first for Montreal but the Jackets responded with four goals within the first 13:14 of play – a franchise record.

Patrik Laine, with two, Jack Roslovic, Eric Robinson, Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger scored for the Blue Jackets (20-21-1). Joonas Korpisalo made 32 saves and Gustav Nyquist had two assists.

Columbus recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 26.

Down 4-1 the Canadiens (8-29-7) attempted a comeback with goals from Artturi Lehkonen and Tyler Toffoli but a third-period goal from 18 year-old Sillinger quelled Montreal’s momentum.

“I got thrown out there with Boone (Jenner) and Patty (Laine),” Sillinger said. “I just saw an opening and that’s what we’re focusing on. It’s not passing up any opportunity, so I saw that opportunity and shot. It was nice to see that go in.”

Added Laine of Sillinger’s goal: “It was great, we were playing short-handed for a minute and they were just running around and had a lot of chances. It was a big step back for Montreal and a huge goal for us. Cole, he did what he had to do to put it in the back of the net and give us a little bit of security.”

Larsen thought his young centreman had a slow start to the game but as it progressed, helped his team retain all two points. Sillinger not only scored an important goal for his side but also left an empty-net opportunity for Laine, who bagged a second goal in the game.

“I felt like it was a big moment for him to score and then he makes a play on the empty-netter, but he’s gonna be a good player,” Larsen said. “This is a tough league at centre at 18 years old.

“He’s got the right mindset and he’s really got a feel for when a game starts to ramp up. His competitiveness and intensity get better.”

Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme pulled his starting goaltender from the game for the third straight contest.

Samuel Montembeault gave up three goals on seven shots. Cayden Primeau made 26 saves in relief.

“At the end of the day, I have to go with the game that’s in front of me,” Ducharme said about pulling his goalies. “Our goalies are part of the solution so they can bring energy in a way that’s different from the players in front of them. Everyone needs to do their job.”

Montreal remained last in the standings as the team enters its all-star break. The league-worst Canadiens have dropped six games in a row, conceding 33 goals over that stretch.

“We obviously would’ve liked to end on a different note but it will be good to have some time,” Ducharme said. “Maybe we’ll have players back after the break. We’ll see, but that can be a positive.”

Laine tied the game up 1-1 at 3:51 – his first of the contest – using Alexander Romanov as a screen to notch a swift wrist shot from the faceoff circle.

Roslovic then surprised Montembeault at 8:39 with a top-corner shot, giving Columbus its first lead of the night.

Ducharme decided he saw enough from his starting goaltender when the Jackets scored their third of the night, short-handed. Robinson found himself on a breakaway and easily connected for his sixth of the season.

Columbus finished its productive first period when Chinakhov zoomed past Cale Klague and beat Primeau with his fifth goal of the year.

Montreal cut the deficit to two goals with 41 seconds to go in the second period. Lehkonen found Toffoli on a one-timer to give the Habs a fighting chance at a comeback.

Lehkonen wasn’t done there and grabbed a short-handed goal of his own 6:55 into the third. The Finn tapped in a saucer pass from Jake Evans to bring the Habs one goal away.

But the Canadiens would not get any closer.

Sillinger shifted momentum back on Columbus with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle at 9:58 of the third before Laine added the empty-netter.


Canadiens goalie Carey Price spoke to reporters Sunday prior to puck drop. He said his goal is to play NHL hockey this season as he works his way back from knee surgery and a stint in the NHL’s player assistance program.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe