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Canadiens edge Blue Jackets on Pacioretty PP goal

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens' special teams proved to be the deciding factor against the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first game since learning they will be without Carey Price for at least six weeks.

Max Pacioretty scored a power-play goal with 2:09 remaining in the third period to give Montreal a 2-1 win against Columbus at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Pacioretty extended his point streak to five games with his team-leading 13th goal. He took a centering pass from Dale Weise and fired a low shot past Sergei Bobrovsky. The Canadiens (19-4-3) got the power play when Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell was called for tripping Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban with 2:34 remaining.

"We played well against one of the top teams in the League, but we found a way to beat ourselves with sloppiness," Columbus coach John Tortorella said.

The Canadiens, who failed to score on their first three power-play opportunities, successfully killed the only power play they allowed, though it was a big one, a five-minute major penalty for interference on defenseman Alexei Emelin, who also got a game misconduct for his blindside hit on Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert at 17:57 of the first period.

"They had their chance on the power play and it seems like the story so often this year with special teams is a big difference. Our kill was great today and the difference is scoring on the power play," said Pacioretty, who has three goals and three assists during his streak.

Paul Byron scored at 2:51 of the first period and Mike Condon made 22 saves in his third straight start since replacing Price for the third period of the Canadiens' 5-1 win at the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

"It seems like it's been a trend for us this year whenever we get those opportunities late in the game and we find ways to get it done, and [Pacioretty] stepped up and scored a big goal," said Subban, who got the second assist on Pacioretty's goal. "I thought we did a good job of moving the puck around and opening up that opportunity."

Price, who won the Hart, Vezina and Jennings trophies and the Ted Lindsay Award last season, will miss at least six weeks after aggravating a lower-body injury that will not require surgery.

"[Condon] comes out, he plays the puck, he's so calm back there," Weise said. "He's a lot like Carey in his positioning and we've got a ton of confidence in him, and he made some gave-saving saves, and in the five-minute power play he comes up big too."

Montreal is on a 5-0-1 run, including a 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

Nick Foligno drew the Blue Jackets even with his first goal in 21 games at 17:23 of the first period.

"It's disappointing because that's a game you can get to overtime and then anything can happen," Foligno said. "And against a good team like that, on the road, we've got to find a way to get a point."

Bobrovsky made 24 saves for Columbus (10-16-0).

"Both goalies made great saves, but you just can't lose a game like that the way we did," Tortorella said. "And this is what kicks you at the end of the year; you have no chance of competing in any type of postseason play if you lose games that way."

Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky returned to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for his cross check to the head of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby on Friday.

Byron put Montreal ahead when he drove the left side and flipped a return pass from Christian Thomas over Bobrovsky's right pad and into the net off the left post for his third goal.

Foligno tied it with his second goal of the season and first since Oct. 16. The Columbus captain picked up a rebound of Ryan Johansen's shot off a faceoff that struck the end boards and drove behind the net for a wraparound, jamming a backhand inside the left post.

Calvert was attended to on the ice by a trainer after the open-ice hit by Emelin, though he remained in the game.

Emelin returned to the lineup after missing the past two games. It was his second game in the past eight since he sustained a lower-body injury on Nov. 11.

The Canadiens killed off the five-minute power play, allowing two shots on goal.

"Both teams killed penalties very well," Tortorella said. "At the end, they score one, so they win the game."

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