NEWARK, N.J. â€” The Montreal Canadiens found a way to win despite basically showing up for only the third period and overtime against the New Jersey Devils.
Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Canadiens rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit for a 4-3 victory on Monday night to win consecutive games for the first time since early January.
“We need to play better and there’s no doubt about that,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “But what you take from this game is two points that are important in the standings and the character we showed in the third.
“We have to realize you can’t just show up and start playing hockey in the final 20 minutes because you’re not going to beat many teams.”
The Canadiens won because their best players stepped up after they fell behind by 2-0 and 3-1 margins in the third period.
Couple with Ottawa’s loss to Tampa Bay, it gave Montreal a four-point lead in the Atlantic Division. The Senators have played two fewer games.
Alexander Radulov, who assisted on the final three goals, got the Canadiens on the board just 11 seconds after John Moore put New Jersey ahead 2-0 and Max Pacioretty got his 30th and 31st in the final in the final 11:23 of regulation, tying the game at 3-all with 51.8 seconds to go.
“We knew we were still in the game,” said goaltender Al Montoya, who made 34 saves. “We hadn’t played our best hockey at all and as a group we knew we could be better and our leadership stepped up and at the end of the day that’s the story.”
The game winner came with Devils defenceman Damon Severson serving a two-minute hooking penalty.
The Canadiens kept the puck in the zone and Galchenyuk eventually beat Cory Schneider with a shot from the top of the right circle.
“It was a big team win,” Galchenyuk said. “Lot of guys chipped in on a lot of the key goals, Rads, Patch. We never stopped believing in this locker room. It wasn’t going our way, but we stuck together and knew to keep going and find a way to win and we did.”
Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.
“It’s certainly a disappointing loss,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We had lots of good performances and we played a good game and there were just some situations that would up going in the back of the net and we ended up not winning the game.”
With the Canadiens’ net empty, Pacioretty tied the game with 51.8 seconds left in regulation. His shot from the right circle that might have hit off Devils defenceman Ben Lovejoy and trickled over the goal line before New Jersey captain Andy Greene could pull it out of the net.
Schneider said Pacioretty’s game-tying goal bounced off one of his own players in front and the game winner was tipped.
“Sometimes those are the breaks go against you,” he said.
Zajac gave New Jersey a 3-1 edge at 7:54 when he put the rebound of Palmieri’s shot into the net on a power play.
Less than a minute later, Pacioretty scored on the rebound of Nathan Beaulieu’s shot to cut the margin to 3-2.
Palmieri had given the Devils the lead late in the first period with his third goal in the past two games. Zajac intercepted a pass around the boards by Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber and found Palmieri between the circles for his team-leading 19th goal of the season.
Moore stretched the lead to 2-0 at 2:38 of the third period with shot from the point that beat a well-screened Montoya.
Eleven seconds later, Montreal was back in the game. Defenceman Alexei Emelin found Radulov at the Devils’ blue line and the right wing snapped a shot past Schneider from between the circles.
Zajac restored the two-goal lead at 7:54, but Pacioretty responded with his 30th and 31st goals.
NOTES: With the trade deadline approaching, the Devils rested free agent D Kyle Quincey. … Montreal traded D Greg Pateryn and a 2017 fourth-round draft to Dallas for defenceman Jordie Benn earlier in the day. … New Jersey placed F Pavel Zacha (concussion) on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 21. Blake Coleman was recalled from Albany (AHL) and centred the fourth line. … Devils C Jacob Josefson missed the last two periods with an upper body injury.
Canadiens: Host Columbus on Tuesday night.
Devils: Travel to Washington to face the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals on Thursday night.
Tom Canavan, The Associated Press