MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored three goals for his second hat trick of the season to help the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Alexander Radulov and Phillip Danault assisted on each of Pacioretty's first two goals, his 22nd with 2:33 left in the first period, which opened the scoring, and his 23rd at 7:47 of the second, which gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead.
"They made it easy for me, and I thought as a line we played really well," Pacioretty said. "We were dangerous pretty much every shift. You know, when our line's going the right way, we're very, very dangerous. Every play kind of starts with the centerman, [Danault]. He has to skate a lot, but he's always making the good first play. And then when we get the puck for [Radulov] with time and space, you know he's looking to make a play, and I'm just very fortunate and happy to play with two players like that."
WATCH: All Sabres vs. Canadiens highlights
Pacioretty completed his sixth NHL hat trick when he scored, unassisted, at 3:24 of the third period with his Canadiens-leading 24th goal, which made it 5-0. He scored an NHL career-high four goals in a 10-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 10.
"He's a good player," Radulov said. "He works hard in practice, and when we get a chance to bury the chance, he's doing quite often, and I just let him do that, and we're going to be fine."
Video: BUF@BUF: Pacioretty notches hatty in 5-2 victory
David Desharnais and Paul Byron scored for Montreal (30-14-7), which is 18-5-3 at home.
Buffalo defenseman Dmitry Kulikov scored with 3:56 remaining to make it 5-1 and end Carey Price's shutout bid. Price, who made 37 saves, lost a shutout with 1.1 seconds remaining in a 5-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 24.
Brian Gionta scored on the power play to make it 5-2 with 2:12 remaining.
Robin Lehner made 30 saves for Buffalo (20-20-9), which has lost two straight games after winning three in a row in overtime, including 3-2 at Montreal on Jan. 21.
"We did have opportunities; it wasn't as if it was 19 chances to zero," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "We had plenty of opportunities, but we played into their speed game. They played a fast game, and we handed them the puck, and they capitalized on a lot of the chances they had."
Desharnais and defensemen Andrei Markov and Greg Pateryn each returned from injury for Montreal, and defenseman Nikita Nesterov, who was acquired in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, made his Canadiens debut.
Desharnais scored in his first game since Dec. 6 to increase the lead to 3-0 at 11:12 of the second period.
Byron made it 4-0 with his 14th goal with 1:22 left in the second.
"They look faster when we're turning the puck over and we're not moving our feet," Gionta said. "We allowed them to get to their game."
Goal of the game
Pacioretty marveled at the backhand pass he got from Radulov to set up his second goal. "He's got two forehands, literally," Pacioretty said. "His stick allows him to do that, and he's very, very dangerous on both sides of the stick, so it's a pleasure playing with him and it's a lot of fun."
Video: BUF@MTL: Pacioretty snipes from the circle for second
Save of the game
Price got his glove on a shot by Evander Kane at 10:12 of the first period after the Sabres forward was left alone in the slot.
Video: BUF@MTL: Price uses his glove to turn away Kane
Highlight of the game
Byron credited Markov for making "an unbelievable pass to me" on his goal. "Just the vision on that for him to hit me like that, that's why he's as good as he is."
Video: BUF@MTL: Byron finishes tic-tac-toe passing play
Unsung performance of the game
Artturi Lehkonen made the first of three straight passes in the Sabres zone to set up Byron's goal, but there was only room on the score sheet for assists for Plekanec and Markov. "We were joking about that before we went on the ice," Byron said. "You do so much work, you make such a nice play, and you don't get the assist. And then sometimes you barely even touch the puck and you get an assist, but that's the game, I guess."
They said it
"It was turnovers feeding their speed. A team like that, you can't turn the puck over. If you think about goals that they got and opportunities that they had, it was all from us giving them the puck in good positions to make plays. So when you do that against a creative, fast team like the Canadiens, they're going to make you pay, and they made us pay. We left our goalie out to dry a little bit and find ourselves down five goals." -- Sabres center Jack Eichel
"We're skating so much. We're so hard to play against. Every team that comes in here has a tough time. That's how we play; we wear teams down." -- Canadiens center David Desharnais
Need to know
Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian was minus-5 in 17:34 of ice time. ... Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry did not play because of the flu.
Sabres: Host the New York Rangers on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNO, TVA Sports, MSG, NHL.TV)
Canadiens: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, SNE, RDS, NHL.TV)
Video: Pacioretty's hat trick leads Canadiens to big win