TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Mike Hoffman skated through the middle, fully expecting the two Arizona Coyotes defenders to converge on him.
They didn’t, so instead of passing like he initially intended, Hoffman shot the puck.
It went in, giving the Montreal Canadiens another overtime win.
Hoffman scored at 1:08 of overtime, Sam Montembeault stopped 37 shots and the Canadiens ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Coyotes 3-2 on Monday night.
“I got to the middle and was thinking about passing it, but and both our guys just kind of split and gave me the lane to shoot,” Hoffman said. “I figured I would just throw it on net.”
The Canadiens got off to a slow start, but Montembeault kept them in it early and made some tough saves in the third period to send the game to overtime.
Montreal controlled the puck for most of the overtime and Hoffman won it by skating up the middle of the ice, then beating Karel Vejmelka with a wrist shot from the slot.
Christian Dvorak had a goal against his former team and Cole Caufield also scored for Montreal, which has won six times in overtime or a shootout this season.
“We had a slow start, but we got better,” Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis said. “Our second was better, third was good and obviously our best best period was overtime.”
The Coyotes had been playing well since returning from a 14-game road trip, winning three of their previous five games.
The Coyotes got off to a fast start, but couldn’t capitalize and missed on a couple of good chances in the third period before Hoffman ended it early in overtime.
Nick Schmaltz and Matias Maccelli scored, and Vejmelka was sharp when had to be, finishing with 20 saves.
“We had a lot of Grade As (chances), a lot of O-zone time, but that’s why the advanced stats, you don’t look at that,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “It doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game.”
Arizona had the early jump, creating numerous good scoring chances early while outshooting Montreal 17-5 in the first period. Montembeault was sharp to keep it scoreless, starting with a sliding kick save and through two penalty kills. He ended the first period by stopping Lawson Crouse from just outside the crease after coughing up the puck behind his own net.
The goals came in a hurry in the second period.
Caufield broke the tie 49 seconds in, using a toe drag to set up a wrister that beat Vejmelka from the right circle. It was Montreal’s first goal in the first or second period in six games.
Schmaltz needed 35 seconds to tie it, lifting a shot over Montembeault from between the circles. Dvorak, who played five seasons in the desert, put Montreal back up three minutes later, redirecting Arber Xhekaj’s shot from near the blue line.
Maccelli had the Coyotes’ answer midway through the period, beating Montembeault between the pads on a short breakaway.
The scoring chances all but dried up in the third period.
Montembeault made a difficult save on Lawson Crouse on a shorthanded 2-on-1 and got some help when Shayne Gostisbehere’s shot from the right circle hit the crossbar.
“We created a lot of turnovers, had a lot of O-zone time, but just didn’t score enough,” Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun said.
Clayton Keller had a breakout season in 2021-22, leading the Coyotes with 28 goals and 63 points.
The sixth-year forward has picked up where he left off, again leading Arizona in scoring while ranking second in goals.
Keller had an assist on Schmaltz’s goal to become the fifth Arizona player to have 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) his first 30 games of a season since the franchise moved from Winnipeg in 1996.
Coyotes F Liam O’Brien missed his second straight game and is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. … Montreal D Mike Matheson did not play and is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. D David Savard also missed his eighth game with an upper-body injury and was placed on the injured-reserve list retroactive to Dec. 4. … The Canadiens announced they will honour P.K. Subban at the Bell Centre on Jan. 12 when they face Nashville.
Canadiens: At Colorado on Wednesday night.
Coyotes: At Vegas on Wednesday night.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
John Marshall, The Associated Press