Montreal Canadiens left frustrated by Sergei Bobrovsky’s brilliance

Zach Werenski scored just over a minute into overtime as the Blue Jackets managed a 2-1 win over the Canadiens.

MONTREAL — Paul Byron stole the puck from Seth Jones and broke away short-handed.

He shifted to the middle of the slot, slipped the puck to his backhand, pushed it back to his forehand, and shot it into Sergei Bobrovsky’s sliding pad. Then he picked up his own rebound and went for another round at a scoring chance before the play ended.

Frustrated, Byron skated over to the Canadiens bench, slammed the door behind him, slammed his stick over the dasher and then took his helmet off and tried to smash it to pieces.

“I couldn’t score the goal, I couldn’t even break my stick,” Byron said after the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

It was that kind of night for Byron’s team. They had ample opportunity to run away with the game, but there was Bobrovsky at every turn.

In the third period, with the Canadiens trailing 1-0, forwards Andrew Shaw and Jacob De La Rose connected on a play that would’ve beaten 61 of the 62 goaltenders in the league on this night. Shaw came down the right side and sifted a pass over to De La Rose on his left, and Bobrovsky tracked the play by shuffling from his left to right, dropping his stick to gain some leverage and some speed on the way over, and he extended his blocker and delivered what has to be considered one of the best saves of the year.

“It’s one of the best saves I’ve ever seen live,” said Canadiens goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who had a pretty good view of it from 200 feet away. “He knew exactly what he was doing there.”

Shades of Dominik Hasek — at least for anyone who is old enough to have seen the former Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, and Czech national team goaltender do the things that led to him being nicknamed “The Dominator”.

“He battles hard, he’s fast, he’s quick; he’s a heck of a goalie,” said Lindgren. “That was pretty special. He knew what he was doing there, making the blocker look big and getting a piece of that puck. I had a perfect view of that and the net was wide open for a split second, and he came over and made a heck of a save.”

It wasn’t the only one. Outside of the one he made on Byron before the Canadiens winger managed to beat him to tie the game 1-1 with 7:46 remaining in the third period, Bobrovsky came up with several other beauties.

He made a sequence of stellar ones on Max Pacioretty, as the Canadiens captain barrelled in late in the third and took a dangerous low shot and collected his own rebound for another before tipping one more seconds later.

“He played phenomenal, and we knew that going into the game, that he’s one of the best goalies in the world,” said Pacioretty. “Tonight was no different. Some of those saves were outstanding.”

Bobrovsky made all the routine stops, too. Just enough of them before Blue Jackets defenceman Zachary Werenski scored the winner just 1:09 into overtime.

“You have to work and you have to step up when you need it, for your teammates,” Bobrovsky said after stopping 28 shots.

He’s been doing plenty of that of late. Heck, in his last start, against the Red Wings on Saturday, he made 32 saves and stopped eight of nine shooters in the shootout before Jack Johnson gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 win.

And the save Bobrovsky made in overtime, stopping a give-and-go, 2-on-0 break by shooting out his skate on Andreas Athanasiou, will be a highlight worth watching until the end of time.

The 29-year-old Russian was asked on Tuesday which was better of the two saves he made on De La Rose and Athanasiou.

“You guys decide,” he said.

Both of them would frustrate any player. It’s amazing none of the other Canadiens were breaking their sticks on the bench after being thwarted by Bobrovsky.

“We played a solid game,” said Canadiens coach Claude Julien.

They got a point out of it to improve to 7-3-1 over their last 11 games, bringing them two points of a playoff spot after a disastrous start to the season that saw them win only one of their first eight games.

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