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Canadiens rally for 5-3 win over Columbus

by John Kreiser /

The Montreal Canadiens are picking up points even as their injury list continues to grow.

The Canadiens improved to 3-0-1 in their last four games with a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night -- a game that saw them without eight regulars. Top-four defenseman Jaroslav Spacek was the latest casualty, missing the game with a lower-body injury.

But Marc-Andre Bergeron stepped up with a pair of goals, including the game-winner 4:50 into the third period.

"I think we've seen the impact of the system over the past few games," said forward Maxim Lapierre, whose insurance goal with 4:35 remaining capped a three-goal third period for the Canadiens (12-11-1). "Even with all the guys we're missing, the system doesn't change."

The Canadiens also got goals from Mike Cammalleri and Glen Metropolit -- and a big boost from some of their injury call-ups. Ryan White and Tom Pyatt provided energy, and Sergei Kostitsyn had an assist after being recalled from Hamilton of the AHL and making his season debut.

"When I look at some of the young guys, they bring energy, they're excited," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "Kids like Pyatt and White are our second unit on penalty killing and Sergei is a smart player who I felt made some contributions."

The Jackets led 3-2 entering the third period as Antoine Vermette scored twice and Anton Strahlman once. But they couldn't hold it, as Mathieu Garon wound up allowing five goals on 29 shots -- including three on 13 in the third period.

The loss, which followed a 7-4 defeat in New York on Monday, left coach Ken Hitchcock unhappy with his netminders.

"We have not got good goaltending the last two nights, it has to be better," he said. "You can't put in efforts like we did in the first and second periods tonight and then throw it away.

"We've thrown it away too many times, and that's exactly what we did again."

In contrast, Carey Price was sharp again while stopping 33 of 36 shots. He made 25 saves in the first two periods to keep the Canadiens in the game.

"The first half of the game our timing wasn't there and we lacked intensity," said Martin. "Our goalie allowed us to stay in the game."

Cammalleri beat Garon with a wrister from near the left faceoff dot 5:50 into the game, but Columbus went ahead when Vermette finished off a perfect centering pass from Rick Nash and 6:36 and Strahlman one-timed a deflected pass behind Price at 8:02.

Bergeron's wrister from the left point through a screen tied it at 9:30 of the second period, but Vermette got his own rebound and slammed it past Price at 11:46 for the Jackets' second power-play goal and a 3-2 lead.

But that was the last shot to beat Price, who's now 4-1-1 in his last six games with a .938 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average.

"It's been a team effort, it's not just me," Price said. "Everybody's been putting in the time and putting in the work."

Metropolit tied it when he fired home a rebound 2:18 into the third after Roman Hamrlik's shot hit the crossbar. Bergeron put Montreal ahead when he scored after a wild scramble in the Columbus zone, and Lapierre finished off a 2-on-1 break to provide some insurance.

Hitchcock said his team needs to learn how to play with a lead late in games.

"We want to continue playing in a track meet, and we got burned," he said.

Material from wire services was used in this report

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