MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens ended a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Tomas Tatar broke a tie at 13:08 of the third period when he tapped in Jordie Benn‘s cross-crease pass from the right corner.
“It was a really tough play, but he made it,” Tatar said. “We made eye contact and I was just on the doorstep.”
Max Domi and Paul Byron scored, and Carey Price made 31 saves for Montreal (32-21-7), which avoided matching its longest losing streak of the season. The Canadiens, who lost five straight (0-3-2) from Nov. 19-27, hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and are two points ahead of the Blue Jackets.
“There’s a lot of character in this room, obviously,” Price said. “It was definitely nice to see a good response.”
Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for Columbus (33-23-3), which has a one-point lead on the Carolina Hurricanes. Josh Anderson scored in the second period and assisted on Nick Foligno‘s goal that tied it 2-2 at 9:07 of the third.
“Worked hard to get back in it, couldn’t finish,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said.
Domi gave Montreal a 1-0 lead at 1:21 of the first period on a backhand after his pass on a 2-on-1 bounced back to him off Columbus forward Eric Robinson’s leg.
“I think you guys knew, we knew, everyone knew that this was the biggest game of the year, right?” Domi said. “We had to come off a few tough losses and we managed to do that, so that one’s out of the way and now we’ve just go to focus on the next one.”
Byron, who played 13:36 in his 400th NHL game after missing the past six because of an arm injury, made it 2-0 at 17:12.
Anderson made it 2-1 at 1:05 of the second on a wrist shot inside the right post from the right face-off dot on a 2-on-1.
“It’s disappointing,” Foligno said. “We played, especially in the second half, I just thought our defensive mindset was so much better, which created our offensive output. You know, you could see us getting more chances because of it and it’s disappointing to not come away with at least a point in that game.”
Forward Artemi Panarin (illness) did not play for Columbus, which was also without defenseman Ryan Murray, who sustained an upper-body injury in a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Panarin leads the Blue Jackets with 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists).
They said it
“He was very effective. He is becoming more and more consistent. You know what the important thing is? I think Josh Anderson feels really good about himself. It doesn’t matter what I say about him, I think he feels really good about himself. He’s become a force.” — Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella
“We’ve all played in big games before. It’s part of the opportunity that we have and you look at it that way. It’s a fun time of year to be playing games, that’s what we’re in. It’s a chance for us to compete and try to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s pretty cool opportunity and we’re just trying to enjoy it.” — Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher
Need to know
Price got his 310th NHL win and is four behind Jacques Plante (314) for the most by a Canadiens goalie. … Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky played 12:29 in his 800th NHL game after missing the previous seven because of a hip injury. … Columbus is 3-5-2 in the second of back-to-back games. … Rookie forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi had two assists, his 18th and 19th, breaking the Canadiens record for most assists by an 18-year-old. Mario Tremblay (1974-75) and Petr Svoboda (1984-85) had 18.
Blue Jackets: At the Ottawa Senators on Friday (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, FS-O, NHL.TV)
Canadiens: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, NBCSP, NHL.TV)