The Detroit Red Wings are starting to figure out how to win at home.
It was Detroit's third win in four games at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings end a five-game homestand against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Before this stretch, Detroit won six times in 23 games in its building. It won back-to-back home games for the first time since Oct. 12-16, when the Red Wings defeated the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
"Some years you win a lot of home games, and some years you don't," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Some years you're good on the road and some years you're not. You can never really figure out why. But we have an opportunity Sunday to keep things going, and we'd like to [do that]."
The victory moved the Red Wings (23-18-10) into the final wild-card Stanley Cup Playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings and Flyers each have 56 points, but Detroit has a game in hand.
Brendan Gallagher scored a power-play goal and Carey Price made 22 saves for the Canadiens (27-19-5), who have lost three in a row and four of five, allowing four or more goals in all five games. Detroit moved within three points of Montreal for third place and the last guaranteed playoff berth in the Atlantic Division.
"Just little, unfortunate breakdowns that we know better. Just little things cost us," Gallagher said.
It was the first meeting between the Original Six rivals since Jan. 25, 2012, and Montreal's first visit to Detroit since Dec. 10, 2010. The teams are in the same division for the first time since 1980-81 and will play four more times this season.
"There's eight [more] points up for grabs and we got two, which is positive for us," Babcock said. "Just keep plugging away."
Gustavsson looked sharp winning for the second time in three nights after returning from a groin pull.
"I feel good; I feel like the team is playing good for me and that helps me a lot too," he said. "It feels good to have two games played now since my injury and just to feel like I can, that it's healed and it's good to go, so the confidence feels pretty good, and when you keep winning, it gives you a lot of confidence."
Montreal had the first good chance when Tomas Plekanec stole the puck from Daniel Alfredsson at his blue line and went in on a shorthanded breakaway. But Alfredsson raced back and pestered Plekanec enough to prevent a good shot before the Montreal center tumbled over Gustavsson.
On the return rush, Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin was called for boarding Daniel Cleary, giving Detroit a 5-on-3 power play for 65 seconds, and the Red Wings capitalized. Zetterberg's one-timer from between the top of the circles knuckled past Price's glove at 12:27 for his 16th of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Sheahan, one of several young players who've gotten ice time in Detroit because of injuries, made it 2-0 at 11:48 of the second period with an unassisted goal. Sheahan picked off an errant pass near the red line, skated into the high slot and rifled a shot over Price's glove for his second NHL goal.
"It was a good goal from Sheahan," Babcock said of Detroit's first-round pick (No. 21) in the 2011 NHL Draft. "Sheahan looks like a real good player."
The Canadiens made it 2-1 68 seconds later. With Justin Abdelkader off for boarding, Gallagher took a pass in the lower left circle and swept unimpeded to the front of the net, where his jam shot slid through Gustavsson's pads and over the goal line for his 13th of the season.
Price kept the lead one goal with 5:45 remaining in the period when he used his shoulder to rob Abdelkader, who was alone in the lower left circle cutting toward the net.
However, Price had no chance at 16:29, when Nyquist's backhand pass off the left wall found Kronwall alone between the hash marks for a rocket that went through a screen and caught the top right corner. Kronwall's sixth of the season gave Detroit a 3-1 lead.
Nyquist put it away with 1:19 remaining when he finished a tic-tac-toe passing play on a 3-on-1 break by beating Price with a wrister from the slot.
"Nyquist made tons of good plays," Babcock said. "When he skates, he's dynamic. He's just got to continue to skate. When he's watching, he's not as good."
Emelin was helped off the ice with 7:08 left in the third period after a shot by Kronwall hit him in the knee. Coach Michel Therrien said after the game that Emelin was OK. The Canadiens host the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Material from team media was used in this report