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Canadiens break out in third period to top Coyotes

by James Murphy

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens picked a great time for their dormant power play to come alive, scoring twice with the man advantage in the third period on their way to a 3-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Montreal had scored one power-play goal in its past 21 periods heading into the third, but Andrei Markov tied the game at 1-1 with his third goal of the season at 2:26 with Phoenix forward David Moss in the box for holding. Max Pacioretty scored his 13th of the season, also on the power play, 13:18 into the third to put the Canadiens ahead for good.

The Canadiens (21-12-3) finished 2-for-4 on the power play.

Pacioretty added an empty-netter at even strength with 2.6 seconds left in the third to ice the win for Montreal.

Pacioretty hit the goal post three times before finding the net with his power-play goal. After the game, he acknowledged the frustration that goal erased for him.

"I thought after that, there's no way one's going in tonight," Pacioretty said. "My first two were pretty good shots, but my third one I felt like I should never miss from there. [Brendan Gallagher] told me it might've nicked [goalie Mike Smith's] glove before it hit the post, I'm not sure, but I shouldn't miss from there.

"I wasn't sure I'd get one tonight, but that's the way the game goes, and you end up getting a lucky one from the corner. So we knew goals were going to come on the power play and we just had to keep getting pucks on the net and give teams different looks, and that's what we did tonight."

Mikkel Boedker gave the Coyotes the lead 6:14 into the first period when Canadiens captain Brian Gionta inadvertently tipped the puck off Boedker's skate and past goalie Carey Price. It was Boedker's 10th goal of the season.

The Coyotes (18-10-5) were able to hold the struggling Montreal offense at bay until Markov's power-play goal. The Canadiens had three shots on goal in the first period, but had 11 in the second period and 14 in the third to finish with 28.

For the Canadiens, getting their power play jump-started was simply a matter of going back to basics.

"We just got back to simplifying our game, getting on the forecheck and using our speed," Gallagher said. "When we're doing that, we're at our best. We knew after the first two we had to get back to basics, and that's what we did. We got pucks back behind their D and tried to create chances that way."

Price, as he's done often throughout the season, kept the Canadiens in the game, especially in the first period when he made 15 of his 26 saves.

It was the Canadiens' penalty kill that kept the game close in the second period. Montreal killed off a double minor to Brandon Prust that seemed to change the momentum of the game.

"I thought we started the second period really strong. We killed that four minutes and we didn't give up many chances, and we just kept playing our game," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We played the game we wanted to play, and there's no doubt the guys did a great job killing that penalty in the second period."

The Coyotes were 0-for-4 on the power play.

After making 30 saves in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Smith was again solid in defeat, making 25 saves.

The Coyotes expressed frustration with how they played to open their four-game road trip.

"They capitalized on their power play and were able to score the key goals," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "I think it's just something that for us to be a better team, we have to find ways to win in those situations, especially in a building like this."

The Coyotes had to play with five defensemen for essentially the entire game after Zbynek Michalek went down with a lower-body injury on his first shift 40 seconds into the game and did not return. Rookie Connor Murphy picked up some of Michalek's minutes, finishing with 24:32 of ice time. Murphy assisted on Boedker's first-period goal.

Forward Rene Bourque returned to the Montreal lineup for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 2. Bourque played on a line with Travis Moen and Prust.

The Canadiens were without forward George Parros after he sustained his second concussion of the season Saturday against the New York Islanders.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who has been out of the lineup since Dec. 4 with an undisclosed illness, is not on the trip but could join the team at some point.

The Coyotes continue their four-game road trip against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday before playing the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

The Canadiens, who played their last home game of 2013, visit the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

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