COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets were outplayed by the Montreal Canadiens for much of the first two periods despite leading by two with less than nine minutes left in regulation.
But the Blue Jackets became undisciplined and the Canadiens scored three times on the power play in a span of 3:53 in the third period for a 3-2 victory at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday.
The Canadiens, winners of six straight on the road, won for the first time in three games.
Forward Max Pacioretty scored the first and third goals, his 19th and 20th of the season, sandwiching the tying goal by defenseman P.K. Subban.
Montreal (27-12-3) had the 28th-ranked power play in the NHL before the game, and had one shot on its first four power plays before connecting on three straight.
"Power play was big topic this week," Pacioretty said. "We talked about in the media. We talked about it in the room."
His first goal with 8:30 left in the third period came on Montreal’s 25th shot against goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and was tipped by a Columbus player.
"He played a great game," Pacioretty said. "We knew we needed a good bounce to start putting them in on that goalie. He was playing out of his mind, especially early. He's a great goalie, one of the best in the league."
Subban got his ninth with three seconds left on a Jared Boll high-sticking penalty to tie the game 2-2.
Pacioretty scored the go-ahead goal with 4:37 left in regulation off a redirect of forward Tomas Plekanec's pass.
The Blue Jackets (18-20-3) have lost three straight.
Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky was in the penalty box when Pacioretty scored and took blame for the loss.
"No one can point fingers at anyone but myself," Dubinsky said. "It was just a stupid penalty. It was the wrong time of the game. It wasn't my intention to put the team shorthanded but we've got to know better. I've got to know better. I've got to hold myself accountable.
"The goal before that, it's a faceoff in our zone. Eleven seconds left (in the penalty). I've got to win the draw too."
Columbus coach Todd Richards had a simple explanation for the loss.
"It's penalties. We took three, two in the offensive zone; the last with five minutes to go," he said. "The last one was not good.
"It's tough to compare (the loss) to other ones. It's disappointing. This one bothers me the way we fought really hard to lose this game."
The Canadiens outshot the Blue Jackets 31-16, and Montreal goalie Carey Price made three saves in the third period.
Columbus had trouble generating offense, even with a 1-0 lead after a first-period goal by defenseman Kevin Connauton.
He got his seventh goal at 3:31 with the help of a screen by Blue Jackets forward Sean Collins. Columbus was on a delayed penalty when forward Jeremy Morin passed to Connauton at the left point. His shot appeared to hit a stick on the way to the net.
Montreal thought it tied the game with 5:01 left in the first period when a pass out of the left corner by Plekanec skimmed Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher. The redirected puck went off Bobrovsky and hit the right post, but Bobrovsky swiped it out with his left pad before the puck was completely across the goal line.
The second period we got caught with the puck in our zone too much," Columbus forward Matt Calvert said. "The easiest way you play defense is to play offense and we haven’t done that the last couple of guys. We have to go back to the drawing board."
In the third period, Columbus was 13 seconds into a power play when Johansen scored his 16th goal past the stick of Price for a 2-0 lead with 10:22 to play.
Johansen set a career high with points in 11 straight games (seven goals, six assists). He had a 10-game point streak earlier this season.
"I would have bet a lot of money we wouldn't lose that game in regulation," Columbus forward Scott Hartnell said.
The Canadiens comeback started with a little bit of luck on Pacioretty's first goal.
"You need some good bounces," Subban said. "We did a good job moving the puck around, getting it to areas and had success."