MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens stopped their longest slide of the season just in time to avoid dropping out of the Northeast Division lead.
Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist and Scott Gomez also had two points as Montreal ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Michael Cammalleri scored on a penalty shot 1:04 in. Maxim Lapierre and Brian Gionta also scored and Carey Price stopped 34 shots for the Canadiens, who remained in first place in the Northeast with 40 points.
“That’s a big game,” said Price, who got his league-leading 18th win. “Those games are obviously four-point games. We’re tied if they win that one — they actually move ahead of us — so that was one that we really needed.”
Boston’s Marc Savard had a goal and an assist, and Patrice Bergeron got his second assist of the game on Milan Lucic’s goal with 4:50 left in the third. Blake Wheeler also scored and Tim Thomas made 37 saves for the Bruins, who now trail the Canadiens by four points.
“We dug ourselves a hole again and tried to claw out of it but it’s tough to continue to claw out of those holes each and every night,” Wheeler said.
Pacioretty, who made his season debut in Wednesday night’s loss to Philadelphia, put Montreal up 3-1 with his first goal in over a year with 30 seconds left in the first. Gomez got his first of two assists when Pacioretty’s backhand made its way in for his first goal since Nov. 25, 2009, ending a personal 28-game goal drought.
Pacioretty and Gomez both assisted on linemate Gionta’s goal late in the second. The Canadiens’ captain got his 11th at 16:54 to give Montreal its third two-goal lead at 4-2.
Savard scored his first goal in seven games in the second and assisted on Bergeron’s power-play goal 15:10 into the third to draw Boston within one for the third time in the game.
The Canadiens had not lost more than two games in a row prior to their losing streak.
Gomez had two assists for a second night in a row after missing Montreal’s two previous games because of a lower-body injury. He had nine points in 28 games before his injury.
The 21,273 on hand at the Bell Centre cheered their approval when referee Bill McCreary pointed to the center-ice faceoff circle after Cammalleri was hooked by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara on a breakaway just over a minute in.
Thomas moved aggressively around the goalmouth as Cammalleri skated in on the penalty shot. The Canadiens’ left wing deked and fired a shot over Thomas’ outstretched right pad for his 11th goal, touching off an even larger roar from the sellout crowd.
“I kind of looked up and saw him doing it and the first thought I had was, ‘Don’t change your shot because of him, just stick to what you want to do here and get him moving,'” Cammalleri said. “I think he was probably playing some mind games or something. Maybe next time I’ll snap it from center ice.”
Lapierre made it 2-0 with his fifth at 6:24 on a shot off the right post that went in off Thomas.
Wheeler cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:52 with a shot from the right edge of the goalmouth that trickled down Price’s pad and just made it across the goal line.
Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban brought the crowd to life again later in the period. The Montreal rookie backed into a solid open-ice hit on Brad Marchand, drawing the ire of several of the Bruins, including Gregory Campbell, who drew a roughing minor, the only penalty on the play.
“They’re trying to send a message that, ‘Hey, you’re not going to be able to just walk all over us,’ and I’m fine with that,” Subban said. “At that point I didn’t really want to fight, our team wasn’t in a position where we needed that, so I just tried to stay in the game and tried to force him to do something.
“We drew a penalty out of it and we ended up scoring on the power play so that’s the type of game I want to play, just in-your-face and hopefully something good comes out of it.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien was exasperated about being asked about his players’ reaction to the hit.
“That’s the question that everybody asks every time there’s a good hit,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Every team seems to want to go and defend their teammate nowadays with clean hits, that’s all over the league.”
Savard drew Boston within one once again 6:54 into the second when he deflected Andrew Ference’s shot past Price to make it 3-2.
Notes: An unlikely fight pairing midway through the second saw Bruins center David Kreji and Cammalleri drop the gloves and go at it. Kreji had three minor penalties in his 22 previous games this season. … D Yannick Weber and C Tom Pyatt did not dress for Montreal.
Islanders 3, Ducks 2
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — P.A. Parenteau, Blake Comeau and Matt Moulson scored in a 99-second span and the New York Islanders won for only the second time in 22 games, beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Thursday night.
Rick DiPietro stopped 30 shots for the Islanders, who had lost six straight. DiPietro has both wins for New York in the last 22 games.
Joffrey Lupul and Jason Blake scored for the Ducks, who were coming off an overtime win the night before in Washington.
Curtis McElhinney started in net for Anaheim and allowed three goals on 12 shots. Jonas Hiller came on in relief and made 17 saves.
The Islanders did something unusual in the first period — they scored three times.
During a back-and-forth period, Parenteau put New York up 1-0 on a power-play snap shot at 15:06. Just 28 seconds later, Comeau ripped a shot past McElhinney. And 71 seconds after that, Moulson made it 3-0 on a backhander for his team-leading 11th goal.
That was the end of the night for McElhinney.
Anaheim got on the board at 10:35 of the second period when Lupul sneaked one in on a power play. Blake, a former Islander, made it 3-2 when he put a rebound past DiPietro 90 seconds into the third.
NOTES: Anaheim entered tied for first place in the Pacific Division with Dallas at 38 points. … The Islanders (7-18-5) are last in the NHL with 19 points.
Rangers 4, Coyotes 3
NEW YORK — Rangers rookie Derek Stepan scored the tying goal late in regulation and Erik Christensen netted the only goal in the shootout as New York rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
Martin Biron turned aside Lee Stempniak, Radim Vrbata and Eric Belanger in the shootout to make Christensen’s first-round tally stand up.
Jason LaBarbera, a late fill-in for Phoenix, was in line for his third straight win before Stepan tied it with 5:43 left in regulation.
Dan Girardi had a goal and assist, and Brandon Prust scored a short-handed goal for the Rangers, who have won 10 of 14. Biron made 33 saves.
Taylor Pyatt and Adrian Aucoin scored in the opening 6 minutes, and Martin Hanzal added a goal in the second period, but the Coyotes fell to 0-2 on their six-game road trip.
Stepan tied it by putting in a second rebound. New York captain Chris Drury, in just his third game this season, won a faceoff in the offensive zone back to defenseman Michal Rozsival at the blue line.
Rozsival’s shot was stopped, as was Drury’s rebound attempt, but Stepan got to the puck at the left post and scored his eighth goal. The Rangers had been behind for all but 1:27 of the game before Stepan tied it.
New York outshot the Coyotes 5-0 in overtime and had the best scoring chance, but Marian Gaborik fired a puck over the net during a 2-on-1 rush.
Pyatt scored 1:27 in and Aucoin made it 2-0 just 4:26 later. LaBarbera nearly got over a gaffe that led to New York’s second goal and finished with 30 saves. He was tabbed for the surprise start when No. 1 netminder Ilya Bryzgalov came down with the flu shortly before the game.
With no time to call up a backup goalie from the minors, the scrambling Coyotes signed 26-year-old Tom Fenton, a former college player who works in the communications department of Manhattanville College in nearby Purchase, N.Y. Fenton spent the game on the bench, soaking in his unexpected moment of fame.
LaBarbera, a former Rangers goalie, had played only once since Nov. 10.
New York, which won 4-1 at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, is 9-0 in the second half of back-to-back games. The Coyotes lost 3-0 at New Jersey on Wednesday.
Phoenix got the jump early on the Rangers with a little bit of help from the Madison Square Garden boards.
Kyle Turris dumped the puck into the New York zone from center ice and it took a funny bounce when it reached the left corner. As Biron went behind the net to wait for the puck that never came, it caromed out in front to Pyatt, who tucked a shot inside the left post before the goalie got back into position at 1:27. The goal was scored 21 seconds into the Coyotes’ power play.
Phoenix used the man advantage again to push its lead to 3-1 in the second period. Once again, Biron was out of place.
Coyotes defenseman Ray Whitney sent a pass from the high slot across to captain Shane Doan, who skated around diving Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. Doan kept his head up and spotted Hanzal unchecked in front of the crease for an easy goal into an empty net at 9:43.
The Rangers got one back with 5.1 seconds left in the second period off a miscue by LaBarbera, while New York was killing a penalty.
Girardi fired the puck from his end down the ice toward the right corner. Prust chased it while LaBarbera glided toward the puck. The goalie failed to get to it before it reached the corner, and then wasn’t allowed to play the puck because it was outside the designated trapezoid.
Prust alertly got it, beat LaBarbera back to the net and shoved a shot in while LaBarbera was sprawling on his back to try to defend the goal. LaBarbera slammed his stick twice — first against the net and then over the crossbar — in disgust.
It was the second time in the game that the Rangers cut their deficit to a goal.
After Aucoin gave Phoenix a 2-0 lead at 5:53, Girardi sliced the lead in half with a power-play goal at 12:07.
Aucoin’s goal was his first of the season and first in 38 games dating to March 20.
NOTES: Biron got the start because the Rangers have only two games in the next week. … The Rangers have scored an NHL-best eight short-handed goals. … LaBarbera is 2-3-1 this season. … Rangers RW Ryan Callahan, who broke his left hand on Wednesday, won’t need surgery but is expected to be out six to eight weeks.