MONTREAL — Anthony Mantha has been struggling of late but he came up big for the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
The burly winger scored at 4:10 of overtime to lift the Red Wings to a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens with his first goal since March 4 and only his second since Feb. 12.
“It feels really good,” said the Montreal-area native. “The last few games were a little harder, but I had to battle through it.
“I did a good job of moving my feet and putting shots on net. It’s the little details that I was doing earlier in the season.”
Mantha, a healthy scratch for two games two weeks ago, scored his 15th of the season on a wrist shot from close range to give the Red Wings (29-32-11) their third win in four games.
Justin Abdelkader scored in the first period for Detroit while Artturi Lehkonen tied it for Montreal (41-23-9) with 2:29 left in the third.
“In the overtime I had two shots on net, both on the glove side, and the goalie got me twice so when I came into the slot I wanted to try it again,” said Mantha. “I guess third time was a charm.”
It was a battle of backup goaltenders with Jimmy Howard coming out on top of Al Montoya with shots even at 36-36 in the game.
Montoya was particularly sharp while making a skate save on Andreas Athanasiou early in overtime.
“I thought Monty was awesome tonight,” said Montreal coach Claude Julien. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to earn that point.
“He definitely deserves better. We should have scored more goals to help him out. He certainly deserved a win the way he played.”
The Red Wings led 1-0 for 56 minutes until Lehkonen tied the game at 17:31 of the third frame. Collecting the puck in his own zone, the Finnish rookie skated in and, using Niklas Kronwall as a screen, fired a wrist shot from the slot inside a post for his 13th of the season.
The Red Wings, coming off a 2-1 loss to Buffalo on Monday night, had Howard in goal for the fourth time since his March 10 return from a nearly three-month injury layoff.
All the action in the opening period happened in the first 53 seconds.
Montreal defenceman Nathan Beaulieu was sent off for interference 39 seconds in and Detroit’s power play, one of the league’s worst, needed only 14 seconds to score as Abdelkader took the rebound of Kronwall’s point shot and lifted it over Montoya.
The Canadiens worked hard the rest of the way but couldn’t get through a tight Detroit defence.
“We just couldn’t penetrate inside the dots,” said Julien. “Our shots were from the outside.
“They were doing a good job of clearing the rebounds and keeping us on the outside, so it was tough. Their goaltender played well but we didn’t make it as hard on him as we should have or could have. That’s on us.”
The Canadiens lost for the first time in seven games that went into overtime or a shootout since Julien took over from Michel Therrien as coach on Feb. 14.
Montoya got the start because Carey Price played back-to-back games on the weekend against Ottawa.
Steve Ott returned to the Montreal lineup against his former team, replacing rookie Michael McCarron.