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Jesperi Kotkaniemi scores in return to Montreal, Hurricanes win 4-1

Kotkaniemi returned to Montreal and scored a goal as the Hurricanes handed the Canadiens a 4-1 loss.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night was nothing but fun for the Carolina Hurricanes as they went into Montreal and claimed a 4-1 win against the Canadiens.

The game had it all, namely some beautiful goals, tremendous goaltending and juicy drama.

As expected, the fans in Montreal rained boos down on Jesperi Kotkaniemi from his first shift of the game. Down on the ice, both teams were noticeably physical in the opening moments.

A slew of penalties was rattled off around the three-minute mark, starting with a Tony DeAngelo slashing penalty as he tried to stop Josh Anderson’s breakaway try. All of four seconds into the Canadiens’ man advantage, Jonathan Drouin got called for hooking, which led to an extended period of four-on-four time that featured a couple of quality opportunities for Andrei Svechnikov before he, too, got sent to the box for slashing.

For a short period of time, it looked like Montreal broke the ice by way of net-front deflection from Brenden Gallagher, but Rod Brind’Amour’s successful goalie interference challenge erased that early tally and kept the game scoreless.

The Hurricanes went on to kill another slashing penalty from Derek Stepan before getting their first man advantage of the game with 1:33 to go in the first period.

Carolina capitalized on the opportunity on the opening shift of the second period. Teuvo Teravainen rifled a perfect seam pass to the stick of Sebastian Aho at the backdoor to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.

Aho’s first goal of the season got Carolina off and running, and Svechnikov followed him up with a goal of his own to extend the lead at 2:12 of the second period.

Martin Necas found Svechnikov with another excellent pass, and Svech waited and fired a shot over the shoulder of Jake Allen from a sharp angle to make it 2-0.

The goal was Svechnikov’s fourth in three games to start the season.

The Canadiens started to surge after Carolina’s lead-padding goal, and the Canes spent much of the second period on their heels. After putting just five shots on Frederik Andersen in the first 25 minutes of the game, Montreal put on an onslaught of 12 shots on goal through the remainder of period two.

The Canes killed another infraction halfway through the period, making them four-for-four on the night, but their stellar penalty kill couldn’t remain perfect after the team got penalized for too many men on the ice, and Tyler Toffoli got the Habs on the board with just over two minutes left in the period.

Carolina managed to escape the second period with the lead, but Montreal undoubtedly took control.

Svechnikov’s second penalty of the night only added to the tension early in the third period, but the Canes killed it with ease, and then things swayed back in their direction in a big way.

At the 9:23 mark of the third period, the inevitable happened. Brady Skjei launched a long-range shot towards the Montreal net, and none other than Jesperi Kotkaniemi was there to deflect the puck down and by Allen to give the Hurricanes another two-goal lead.

Kotkaniemi scored his first goal as a Hurricanes in his first game back in Montreal, because of course.

The Canadiens didn’t go away after Kotkaniemi’s goal, and they had many chances to cut into the Hurricanes’ led. Carolina did the very definition of bending but not breaking down the stretch, thanks in large part to some outstanding goaltending from Frederik Andersen and pure desperation from the guys in front of him.

The Canes withstood the barrage late in the third period and salted the game away via an empty-net goal from Aho to close out a 4-1 win in Montreal.

Thursday night was one to remember for the Hurricanes, who improved to 3-0-0 on the season and did so in hilarious fashion thanks to Kotkaniemi’s goal.

Andersen put together another stellar performance, stopping 27 of 28 shots. He has a .938 save percentage through his first three starts with the team.

The Carolina penalty kill led the way, killing five of six Montreal power plays.

The Hurricanes will travel to Columbus for a date with the Blue Jackets on Saturday night before returning home on Monday to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.