MONTREAL (AP) — Cole Caufield scored the first of three unanswered second-period goals as the Montreal Canadiens defeated Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in their home opener on Saturday night.
Bedard, hockey’s most anticipated prospect since Connor McDavid, received a not-so-warm welcome from a Bell Center crowd that booed the hockey phenom every time he touched the puck.
“I loved it, it was great,” he said. “I didn’t really think about it before the game but I thought it was awesome.
“I haven’t done anything yet (in my career), I’m just starting, but to get that right now is good, and I think that makes the game more fun when the crowd is really into it like that … I enjoy that stuff.”
Tanner Pearson and Sean Monahan also scored for Montreal, which earned its first win of the young season.
Canadiens goaltender Sam Montembeault made 28 saves to earn a win in his first start of the season.
Tyler Johnson scored both goals for Chicago. Blackhawks netminder Petr Mrazek stopped 33 shots.
Bedard, who has one goal and two assists in three games this season after going first-overall in June’s entry draft, displayed his poise and world-class skill throughout the evening.
“I think he was great, he had the puck all night, making plays,” Chicago veteran Corey Perry said of Bedard. “He’s in this league at 18 for a reason.”
Caufield, Montreal’s top goal scorer, showed that Bedard wasn’t the only one on the ice with moves, however.
With the game scoreless early in the second period, Caufield danced around Chicago rookie Kevin Korchinski before hitting a rebound from his own backhand shot out of mid-air and into the net.
Pearson — acquired via trade from Vancouver before training camp — added to the lead at 7:56 with a blistering wrist shot that beat Mrazek over his left shoulder. It was his first goal for the Canadiens.
Monahan made it 3-0 with just over two minutes left in the period, taking a breakaway pass from forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard down the ice and scoring with a wrist shot. Montreal outshot Chicago 15-5 in the period.
Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said that Monahan, who missed most of last season because of injury, adds some needed consistency to his team.
“You know what you’re gonna get every night, he’s very responsible, plays both sides of the puck, good offensively, very aware defensively, great on the draws,” he said. “There’s a lot to like with a healthy Sean Monahan, for sure.”
Johnson cut Chicago’s deficit to two 35 seconds into the third after a lucky bounce found its way onto his stick in front of the net.
The Blackhawks built off that momentum and dominated most of the third period, outshooting the Canadiens 16-9 in the frame.
Montreal held off the pressure through most of the rest of the period before Johnson buried his second with the goalie pulled to make it 3-2 with 1:21 left in the game.
St. Louis said it was good for the team to get reps on the penalty kill early in the season, but he’d prefer not to have to in a game.
“We made a few adjustments to the way we want to kill and you definitely want to try this, but I’d be OK just practicing it in practice,” he said.
DACH LEAVES GAME
Canadiens forward Kirby Dach left the game midway through the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.
Dach, a former Blackhawk, was dumped into Chicago’s bench by defenseman Jarred Tinordi before exiting.
St. Louis said Dach would undergo further evaluation on Sunday.
Blackhawks: Chicago continues its road trip with a game in Toronto on Monday.
Canadiens: Montreal hosts Minnesota on Tuesday.
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