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Coyotes score early, hang on to edge Canadiens

by Sean Farrell /

MONTREAL -- The Arizona Coyotes scored first for the first time in six games, the Montreal Canadiens gave up the first goal for the fifth straight game, and that made all the difference Thursday.

Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan scored first-period goals, Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a power-play goal in the second and Arizona held on for a 3-2 win at Bell Centre.

Mike Smith made 31 saves for the Coyotes (10-8-1), who had lost the first two games of a four-game road trip that concludes Saturday at the Winnipeg Jets.

"Our team game was much better [Thursday] than it was last game," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said, referring to a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. "We spent a couple of days talking about it so I'm glad the players responded and they played a pretty solid game. We made it a little hard on ourselves at the end there.

"I thought the second period, we had some great chances, we could have pushed it to 4-0, and then we had a turnover that led to a goal against late in the second and then took a penalty to give some momentum, but I thought we hung in there in the third. I give our guys credit."

Rookie Mike Condon made 17 saves in his ninth consecutive start for the Canadiens (14-4-2), who have trailed 3-0 in three straight games.

"I'm used to playing many games in a row in the minors, and it's no different up here," said Condon, who is 7-2-2, including five wins in nine starts since Carey Price was sidelined by a lower-body injury. "It's just if you make a mistake, guys bury it. So the second goal was my fault, and it's that one goal that comes back to haunt you."

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said Price will make his first start since Oct. 29 at the Islanders on Friday. The Canadiens returned goalie Dustin Tokarski, who was recalled on an emergency basis on Nov. 1, to St. John's of the American Hockey League.

After Ekman-Larsson extended his point streak to seven games by scoring from the slot at 3:51 of the second period to give the Coyotes a three-goal lead, Montreal captain Max Pacioretty made it 3-1 with his team-leading 10th goal at 15:59. Pacioretty also set up Dale Weise's ninth of the season with Condon pulled for an extra attacker and 51 seconds remaining in the third period.

Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, with an assist on Pacioretty's goal, extended their respective points streaks to six games.

Canadiens forward Torrey Mitchell sustained an injury and left at 7:46 of the third period. He did not return and did not travel with the team to New York.

Montreal overcame a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, but there was no such comeback against Arizona.

"They're just too good," Gallagher said. "You can't continually get behind 3-0 and expect to come back."

Part of the problem was the Canadiens' power play, which went 0-for-5 and is scoreless in its past 13 opportunities.

"I just thought they came out, they had a couple of breaks early, and I thought we took over the game," Weise said. "They just defended well. We had some chances on the power play [when] if we had scored on it would have changed the game, but we didn't. We were just out of sync on our power play."

Arizona opened the scoring 5:04 into the game when forward Anthony Duclair drove behind the Montreal net and attempted a wraparound shot. Hanzal stepped up and put home the rebound for his fourth goal.

"It shows his skill level and shows his capabilities and how fast he is and how he gets the puck to the net, and obviously Marty does a good job of going to the net and finding an opportunity on a great play by [Duclair]," Doan said. "Our rookies have come in and played big minutes and played really well for us."

It was the fifth straight game Montreal has allowed the first goal, all within the first 5:04.

Doan made it 2-0 with his fifth goal at 9:17 when he batted a rebound of Tobias Rieder's shot out of midair past Condon.

"That was a lucky one," Doan said.

The Canadiens, who held a 13-5 advantage in shots in the first, have allowed 10 goals in the first period in their past five games. Prior to that, they had allowed a total of three first-period goals in their first 15 games.

Ekman-Larsson extended his career-long point streak when he beat Condon after a failed clearing attempt by Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry.

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