MONTREAL — The Canadiens know they need to work on securing leads after squandering another one on Saturday.
Montreal blew a three-goal lead but held on for the 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Jeff Petry’s overtime winner.
It’s the fifth consecutive home game where the Canadiens failed to protect a multi-goal cushion (1-2-2).
“We haven’t been good with leads,” said Brendan Gallagher, who scored and added an assist. “We have to work through this and learn to play with the lead. We were better tonight. We were more aggressive. But at the same time, three pucks still end up in the back of our net.
“You have a two-goal lead or a three-goal lead, they need to be locked down.”
Down 3-0 in the second, the ‘Canes (35-24-5) got one back when Haydn Fleury threw a puck on net from the point that found its way through a couple of bodies and under Charlie Lindgren’s glove at 7:45.
Joel Edmundson made it 3-2 at 1:14 of the third when his wrist shot from the blue line soared into the top corner of the net. Andrei Svechnikov was screening Lindgren on the play.
After a back-and-forth third, Justin Williams tied the game for Carolina with 1:17 remaining on the clock by deflecting Edmundson’s point shot.
Petry saved the Canadiens (30-28-9) from their third straight defeat when he scored 52 seconds into OT, top corner on the breakaway.
“It would definitely be a much different feeling in here if we were to lose in overtime, especially with the lead that late in the game,” said Petry, who scored his 10th of the year. “It’s a sense of relief to get the win.
“But we have to figure out a way to end it in regulation. We have to have that killer instinct, that mentality.”
Carolina’s goaltending troubles continued with both James Reimer (lower body) and Petr Mrazek (concussion) injured last week in Toronto.
Backup goaltender Anton Forsberg, who also played on Friday, allowed three goals on 20 shots before being pulled in the second period. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 18 straight shots in relief before Petry scored in overtime.
Meanwhile Lindgren made 27 saves in his first start since Feb. 4 — a 5-4 shootout victory in New Jersey. Carey Price got the night off after playing 11 consecutive games.
“I found Lindgren played a good game,” said Claude Julien. “There was a lot of traffic in front of him on their goals. He made some big saves, especially in the dying seconds.
“I’m pretty sure you’re going to see him again. The goal is not to ride Price into the ground. The goal, as you saw tonight, is to give Charlie the opportunity to play here. And if he plays well, why not.”
The Habs flew out of the gates looking to end their skid.
They were leading 8-0 in shots when Phillip Danault completed a nice passing play from linemates Tomas Tatar and Gallagher to slide the puck five-hole on Forsberg.
Montreal started the second period with similar energy to the first and scored twice within 17 seconds to take a 3-0 lead.
Domi capitalized on a scramble in front of Forsberg for his fourth goal in as many games at 3:46. With fans still cheering for Domi’s goal, Gallagher fired a one-timer on a rebound from Tatar at 4:03 to end Forsberg’s night.
Tatar recorded three assists for a career-high 61 points.
“We can’t chase games,” said the veteran Williams, who scored his third of the season. “Chase and chase and chase. It’s exhausting. Our urgency from the start of the game just has to be better. It’s just a mental thing.
“Sometimes maybe you have to trick your mind to think you’re down a goal to start the game.”
The Hurricanes are now one point behind Columbus for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.
Notes: Montreal improved to 14-16-6 at home this year. … Habs defenceman Xavier Ouellet returned after missing three games with a concussion. … The Canadiens snapped a three-game losing skid against Carolina.