MONTREAL (AP) Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored three goals for his first career hat trick and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-2 Saturday night.
Nick Suzuki had a goal and three assists, Mike Hoffman had a goal and two assists, Brendan Gallagher and Jesse Ylonen each added a goal and an assist, and Alex Belzile also scored for Montreal. Mike Matheson had three assists and Johnathan Kovacevic had two.
Harvey-Pinard, a Quebec native received a standing ovation following his third goal and another one after being named the first star of the game. In the dressing room, a player had covered up part of his name plate. It read: “R. Hatty-Pinard.”
“Honestly, it’s tough to describe,” Harvey-Pinard said. “I had chills. I was just hearing the crowd, it was so loud. That was a good moment. I was enjoying it at 100%.”
Gallagher had a few words of encourage for his young teammate.
“I was trying to get him to stand up and salute the crowd,” Gallagher said with a grin. “He’s a little smarter than that, he didn’t fall for it. It was fun to see him smiling.”
Sam Montembault stopped 21 shots to help Montreal win for the third time in 13 games (3-8-2).
“I think we gave a good show tonight and our fans deserve it,” said Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. “I’ve been here for 15 months and I’ve always felt them behind us. Of course we’d like to be in a better spot to give them playoff hockey but to have that support is fantastic and we don’t take that for granted.”
Lane Pederson and Kirill Marchenko scored for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a two-game win streak and lost for the fourth time in six games. Elvis Merzlikins was pulled late in the second period after giving up six goals on 24 shots. Michael Hutchinson came on and finished with seven saves.
“I don’t even know if it was an energy thing, it’s more that we shot ourselves in the foot time and time again,” Pederson said. “Obviously, a frustrating second period and we’re chasing the rest of the game.”
Harvey-Pinard scored 13 seconds into the second period as he knocked in a loose puck after Merzlikins stopped Matheson's driving backhander to put Montreal up 3-2.
Harvey-Pinard then got his second of the night seven minutes later as he beat Merzlikins from the left circle.
Gallagher scored in front off a pass from Jake Evans to push the lead to 5-2 with 6:52 remaining in the second period.
Harvey-Pinard then completed his hat trick as he redirected a feed from Hoffman on a power play with 3:18 left in the middle period to make it 6-2. It was his 12th of the season.
“The second period killed us, that’s what it was,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “We didn’t skate enough, we didn’t manage the puck at all.”
Merzlikins left with about three minutes remaining in the second. The Latvian appeared to have suffered the injury while attempting to make a save on Harvey-Pinard’s hat trick goal.
Belzile and Suzuki scored less than two minutes apart to give the Canadiens a six-goal lead with 6:11 remaining in the third.
Pederson got Columbus on the scoreboard first, quickly redirecting a pass from Kent Johnson in the left circle 1:32 into the game. It was his third.
Hoffman tied it a little more than two minutes later with his 13th and Ylonen gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead near the midpoint of the opening period.
Marchenko tied it for Columbus with two minutes left in the first as he scored high from a sharp angle from the right side for his 19th.
Blue Jackets: At New York Rangers on Tuesday night in the second of a three-game trip.
Canadiens: At Buffalo on Monday night to open a two-game trip.
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