MONTREAL (AP) Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled Claude Julien’s return to Montreal.
Laine and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and an assist, leading the Jets to a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday.
”We knew we were going to have everything thrown at us in the first period,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. ”If you can withstand that, some of that excitement and some of that emotion from the coaching change and all the buzz around the city starts to wear off.
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”We knew they were going to be amped up. Any time there’s a coaching change, it makes everyone stand at attention.”
Joel Armia also scored for Winnipeg (27-29-5), and Connor Hellebuyck stopped 19 shots. The Jets had dropped five of six.
The Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday and hired Julien in hopes of getting their season back on track. Julien also coached Montreal from 2003-2006.
But Julien’s first game back was more of the same for the first-place Canadiens (31-20-8), who have lost three in a row and seven of eight.
”We were in between in a lot of areas,” said Julien, who was fired by Boston on Feb. 7. ”We weren’t quite sure. And that’s not system. It’s confidence. We need to find our confidence in the next couple of days.
”This team is a much better team than what you saw today.”
Perreault made it 2-1 just 1:16 into the third period. He sent a backhand shot over Carey Price’s shoulder after a nifty one-handed pass from Dustin Byfuglien.
Laine added an empty-netter at 18:43. The rookie has five goals in his last three games and 28 on the year.
Andrei Markov scored for Montreal, and Price had 30 saves.
The Canadiens were sloppy in their first game back following their bye week, and it cost the home side on Winnipeg’s first goal.
With Montreal on the power play in the second period, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu skated out of his own zone, and then tried to dangle the puck around Armia in the neutral zone.
The Jets winger easily stole the puck, skated in on Price and scored Winnipeg’s sixth short-handed goal of the season at 4:52. Montreal had 18 giveaways in the game.
”It wasn’t a strong game,” captain Max Pacioretty said. ”We got outplayed, especially in our own end. It was tough to create anything offensively when you’re playing in your own end. That’s an area we want to clean up.”
In one of his first coaching decisions since rejoining the Canadiens, Julien put Alex Galchenyuk on the first line with Alexander Radulov and Pacioretty.
That move paid instant dividends on Montreal’s first goal on a rarely seen pinch by defenseman Markov.
The Russian’s forecheck on Wheeler forced a giveaway in Winnipeg’s zone, with the puck falling right to Galchenyuk. The center then found Pacioretty, who gave it back to Markov in the crease for the easy tap-in at 11:04 of the first.
Pacioretty has seven points in his last four games.
NOTES: Michael McCarron, recalled from the minors on Friday, centered the fourth line for Montreal. Davis Desharnais and Sven Andrighetto were healthy scratches. … The Jets have two more games remaining on their four-game road trip. … Markov was also on the ice on Jan. 18, 2003, when Julien made his coaching debut in his first stint with the Canadiens.
Jets: Visit Ottawa on Sunday.
Canadiens: Visit the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
This version corrects to 30 saves for Carey Price instead of 31.