Canadiens pull out shootout win over Blue Jackets

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In the span of one week, center David Desharnais has gone from a healthy scratch to a fourth-line center to the hero of the Montreal Canadiens' shootout win on Friday.

Desharnais scored in the second round -- the only goal for either club -- as the Canadiens scored a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets before 13,222 in Nationwide Arena.

"I saw his intensity," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "I liked the way he practiced this week. I wasn't afraid to make changes in the game, moving him up in the lineup, because I could see him creating chances.

"I'm happy for him to have some success in the shootout, good for his confidence."

Centers Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller scored goals in regulation for Montreal, which had been just 1-3-2 in their previous six games.

Goaltender Peter Budaj won a battle of backups, stopping 23 of 25 shots and stoning Columbus' Mark Letestu, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen in the shootout.

It continued the Blue Jackets' misery. They're stuck in a 1-5-3 nosedive that has landed them in last place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Blue Jackets got goals from left wing R.J. Umberger and Anisimov in the first period, but couldn't hold the lead. Goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped 38 of 40 shots in regulation, then stopped Galchenyuk in the first round of the shootout.

But Desharnais beat McElhinney with a snap wrister through his stick side. When Budaj denied Anisimov in the second round, the Canadiens didn't need a third shooter.

This at the end of a week in which Desharnais' lack of production led to Therrien taking him out of the the lineup for Tuesday's loss to Tampa Bay. Further, a Montreal politician took to Twitter suggesting Desharnais be sent to the minor leagues.

"David works so hard," Budaj said. "Nobody sees that. He keeps his mouth shut and keeps working hard. I'm so happy for him because it has been tough for him, but he stayed the course like a true professional.

"His hard work paid off. He made a big goal for us tonight."

Before tonight, the only win for either club during the month of November had come against the New York Islanders.

The Blue Jackets scored twice in the span of 99 seconds in the first period to build a 2-0 lead, but they couldn't hold it.

Galchenyuk pounced on a neutral-zone turnover and turned it into a mini-breakaway on McElhinney, beating him over his right pad to make it 2-1 with only 7.6 seconds left in the first.

Montreal, with the second-best power play in the NHL, made it 2-2 with a power-play goal at 7:34 of the second. Eller gathered the puck low in the zone, and banked it in off McElhinney.

Eller had seven goals in 16 games. His career high is 16 goals in 2011-12.

Columbus has gone beyond regulation in three straight games. They lost the first two games in overtime.

During their current slide, the Blue Jackets have lost five times to backup goaltenders. Budaj was just the latest.

After the game, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards threatened to bench veteran players if the play doesn't improve.

"There's a disconnect somewhere," he said. "We've talked about it a lot. The first period we executed, we do the right things and have some success and then we just abandon it.

"Right now, because of all the injuries we've got, I don't have very many bullets I can use, as far as the accountability factor. It's just bad penalties, bad puck decisions ... on and on, over and over again."
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