On more than one occasion, Gerard Gallant lamented his team’s inability to earn at least one point after outplaying its opponent.
But the Golden Knights coach wore the look of a teenager who nearly got caught toilet-papering a house Saturday.
He took his point and ran.
The Knights were 1:25 away from a victory despite being outplayed by Montreal, but couldn’t get across the finish line and lost 4-3 in overtime at T-Mobile Arena.
“Montreal came in here and played a gritty game,” Gallant said. “They played a competitive game. They were fast. It was probably the best team I’ve seen this year come into our building and play like that.
“I didn’t mind our team’s game (Saturday). But they were a step ahead of us all over the ice, and they were real good.”
Paul Byron scored 1:59 into overtime for the Canadiens, and Phillip Danault had a hat trick that included a dubious goal at 8:10 of the second period.
Danault, who had two goals in the first 36 games, tipped in Jordie Benn’s shot from the point to even the score at 2, and a review was initiated by league replay officials to see whether Danault deflected the puck with a high stick.
Officials ruled there was “no conclusive evidence to determine whether Danault’s stick was above the height of the crossbar,” and the goal stood, to the displeasure of many in the announced crowd of 18,173.
“He’s a lot taller than the net, you know?” Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said of the 6-foot-1-inch Danault.
“The ref said we can’t overturn it on the replay and he saw a goal on the ice. It’s mind-boggling a bit. It’s 2018, and we can’t figure out if the puck is high enough or not for a high stick.”
Danault scored his third goal on a scramble in front before Byron got free from Alex Tuch in OT and slipped in a backhander for his ninth goal.
The Knights, who had their six-game home win streak snapped, allowed a season-high 47 shots on goal.
“I think they played our game,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who scored his 13th goal. “They worked fast. They got a lot of shots off. They worked hard. They know they don’t have the most skills in the league, and they just worked hard.”
Knights left wing Brandon Pirri scored two goals and is doing his best to force general manager George McPhee into a tough decision after the holiday break, which runs Monday through Wednesday.
Max Pacioretty is eligible to return from the injured-reserve list Thursday.
“Pirri’s a goal scorer,” Gallant said. “That’s what he does. He’s not a great defensive player. He’s gotten better. He’s working harder. Pirri puts the puck in the net, and that’s why he’s here.”
Pirri caught the Canadiens in a bad line change and scored on a breakaway at 13:59 of the second period to put the Knights ahead 3-2.
He cleaned up a rebound with 3:36 remaining in the first after Alex Tuch’s wraparound attempt was stopped by Montreal goaltender Carey Price.
Pirri, who was recalled from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Wednesday when Pacioretty went on IR, has three goals in two games. He has six goals and has scored in each of his four appearances with the Knights.
“For me, I’ve got to focus on being the best player I can be every day because I know, even if you’re scoring, sometimes teams have lineups, and that’s the way it goes,” Pirri said. “But if you’re producing, you can make their job a little tougher.”