Rafael Harvey-Pinard electrified the Bell Centre with his first career hat trick as the Montreal Canadiens routed the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-2 on Saturday.
Nick Suzuki had one goal and three assists while Mike Hoffman scored one goal and added two assists. Jesse Ylonen and Brendan Gallagher both picked up one goal and one assist. Alex Belzile also scored for Montreal while Mike Matheson collected three helpers.
Sam Montembeault made 20 saves as the Canadiens (29-38-6) recorded back-to-back home wins.
Lane Pederson and Kirill Marchenko scored for the Blue Jackets (23-42-7), who failed to record their first three-game win streak of the season.
Elvis Merzlikins made 16 saves before leaving the game with an injury with 2:58 remaining in the second period. In relief, Michael Hutchinson made five saves.
The Blue Jackets took only 1:32 to score the game’s first goal. Kent Johnson located Pederson in front of the net with a backhand pass and the forward completed the one-timer.
The Canadiens responded just over two minutes later. Hoffman, sporting a full-face visor after receiving a cross-check to the face from A.J. Greer in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, beat Merzlikins with a wrist shot.
Montreal took its first lead of the game at 9:43 of the first. Ylonen took advantage of Brendan Gallagher’s screen in front of the net to send a wrist shot from atop the left faceoff circle.
Marchenko took a shot from a tight angle over Montembeault’s shoulder to tie the game but the net was knocked loose in the process. After video review, it was determined that the puck had crossed the goal line before the net was dislodged and the goal was allowed.
Harvey-Pinard helped Montreal regain their lead with a second-period hat trick.
Immediately after the opening faceoff, Matheson rushed along the boards and drove to the net. Merzlikins made the save but Harvey-Pinard zoomed into the crease to tap in Montreal’s third goal.
Harvey-Pinard then bagged his second goal of the night with a wrister from the left faceoff circle.
Gallagher gave Montreal a 5-3 lead by finding his way in the slot amongst the five Jackets skaters. He accepted Ylonen’s pass from behind the net to notch the one-timer.
Harvey-Pinard completed his hat trick before the end of the second. The winger redirected Hoffman’s pass past Merzlikins and the hats rained on the ice for the Saguenay, Que., native’s first hat trick.
Montreal added a seventh goal in the final frame when Belzile’s pass for Chris Tierney on the rush deflected off Columbus defenceman Andrew Peeke and into the net.
Suzuki completed his four-point night by piercing through Columbus’ zone and beating Hutchinson with a wrist shot from the slot.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins left the game with an injury in the second period. The Latvian appeared to have suffered the injury while attempting to make a save on the play resulting in Rafael Harvey-Pinard’s hat trick goal. Micheal Hutchinson took over in relief.
The Columbus Blue Jackets made two emergency recalls before Saturday’s game. Forward Trey Fix-Wolansky and defenceman Jake Christiansen were tapped in to replace the injured Mathieu Olivier and Erik Gudbranson, respectively. Fix-Wolansky played in his 11th NHL game while Christiansen skated in the 27th of his young career.
The Canadiens head to Buffalo to play the Sabres on Monday.
The Blue Jackets visit the New York Rangers on Tuesday.