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Primeau earns 41-save shutout as Canadiens blank Blue Jackets

Montreal Canadiens Cayden Primeau Cayden Primeau - The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Cayden Primeau made 41 saves, and the Montreal Canadiens shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Brendan Gallagher, Juraj Slafkovsky and Joshua Roy scored in the opening six minutes for Montreal (25-30-10), which jumped out to a commanding lead and didn't look back to snap a two-game losing skid. Primeau earned his second career shutout with the performance.

The 24-year-old Primeau — officially Montreal's backup goalie after Montreal traded veteran netminder Jake Allen to the New Jersey Devils on Friday — took full advantage of the added responsibility.

“It’s huge, it feels great," he said. "There’s still a bunch of games this year so I just want to get ready for the next one. I still try to go into every game the same and be consistent, but I’m definitely excited for the opportunity."

Primeau only needed 13 saves in his previous shutout on Feb.13 against Anaheim.

“The guys played so well (during the last shutout) so this one feels like I had a little bit more of a contribution," Primeau said.

Elvis Merzlikins allowed three goals on four shots for Columbus (22-33-10) before getting the hook. Daniil Tarasov stopped all 19 shots the rest of the way.

Montreal went on the attack early, finding the back of the net just 21 seconds into the game.

Gallagher found himself all alone in front of the net before redirecting Jake Evans' pass into the top corner.

The Canadiens took only three minutes to add another, this time on the power play.

Slafkovsky fired off a one-timer past Merzlikins from the right faceoff dot after a feed from Mike Matheson.

Roy then deflected a shot into the back of the net at 5:48 to end Merzlikins's night.

“There’s been a lot of games this year where we’ve had really good starts and then we come back in the room after the first and it’s been tied or we're down and it’s almost like we haven’t been rewarded,” said Gallagher.

“If you look at it as a whole, it wasn’t our best period, but we were very opportunistic.”

Columbus replied by registering 22 shots in the period, but could not find a way past Primeau.

The 24-year-old Primeau also made a miraculous sprawling glove save to steal a sure goal from Alexandre Texier.

His stellar play continued in the second and third as the Blue Jackets dominated in time of possession and shots but remained off the scoresheet.

Columbus ultimately outshot Montreal 41-23.

“I wasn’t expecting that volume (of shots) from Columbus, they were shooting from everywhere," Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said. "We still managed that pretty well, and when something slipped through the cracks Cayden was there.

“We gave them a bit too many chances with the penalties, but we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot like we have at other times this season."

Columbus went 0-for-4 on the power play. Montreal was 1-for-3.


Canadiens: Host the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Blue Jackets: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2024.