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Canadiens pad lead for first place in Atlantic

Move four points ahead in division after scoring four straight to defeat Stars

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens increased their lead in the Atlantic Division to four points with a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

The Canadiens (43-24-9) gained a point on the second-place Ottawa Senators, who lost 3-2 in a shootout at the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. The Senators have one game in hand.

Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Artturi Lehkonen and Alexander Radulov scored, and Carey Price made 27 saves for Montreal.

 

WATCH: All Stars vs. Canadiens highlights

 

"Regardless of where we finish, I think the most important thing for us going into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] is that we just want to be playing good hockey, and game after game you want to be consistent," Gallagher said. "Six games left after tonight so it's going to be important for us to play six good hockey games and prepare for it from there on out, but focus on ourselves because there's so much going on around us and eventually we'll know."

Curtis McKenzie scored and Kari Lehtonen made 32 saves for the Stars (31-34-11).

Andrei Markov tied Guy Lapointe for second place in points by a Canadiens defenseman when he got his 572nd with an assist on Lehkonen's goal, which made it 3-1 at 13:02 of the third period.

Radulov increased the lead to 4-1 when he scored with a backhand on a 2-on-1 with Pacioretty at 17:58.

Video: DAL@MTL: Radulov pots backhand goal on breakaway

McKenzie gave Dallas a 1-0 lead with his sixth goal at 1:47 of the first period after cutting off a clearing attempt by Andrew Shaw inside the blue line.

McKenzie's initial shot from the top of the slot struck defenseman Jordie Benn's stick and sailed high, but he continued to drive to the net for the rebound off the glass and shot the puck inside the right post before Price could scramble to his left.

"It was just a lucky turnover there and a good bounce that popped right back out at me off the glass," McKenzie said. "I was trying to score on the first shot but I guess I put it by Price there, any bounce you can get is a good one."

Pacioretty, who assisted on Radulov's goal, scored his 34th to bring Montreal even at 1-1 at 15:49 of the second period.

"I think both teams had pockets of momentum inside the game, and I think when they got their goal, I think it was their first opportunity in the period," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Gallagher made it 2-1 at 3:21 of the third with his ninth goal.

 

Goal of the game 

Gallagher scored with a wrist shot past Lehtonen from the top of the left faceoff circle to give Montreal the lead.  

Video: DAL@MTL: Gallagher nets wicked snipe from the circle

 

Save of the game

Price made a save on a backhand by Jason Dickinson off a rebound of his save on Radek Faksa's wrist shot to keep it tied 1-1 at 1:23 of the third period.

 

Highlight of the game

Pacioretty scored the Canadiens' first goal on their 27th shot after he took a pass back from Tomas Plekanec and put a backhand under Lehtonen's blocker that slid across the goal line.

Video: DAL@MTL: Pacioretty squeezes backhand past Lehtonen

 

Unsung performance of the game

Shaw blocked a shot from the left point by defenseman Dan Hamhuis to prevent the puck from going into an open net and keep it tied 1-1 at 1:00 of the third period.

 

They said it

"They came out of the gates hard. They played very well that first four minutes of the game and I thought we responded well after that. I think we might have gained a little bit of confidence out there tonight because we started making plays for the remainder of that game." -- Canadiens goalie Carey Price

 

"It was different but it was fun. Losing is not fun but playing against him is pretty fun. I don't know if we even had a shift against each other but he looks pretty good in the red and blue." -- Stars forward Jamie Benn on facing his older brother, Canadiens defenseman Jordie Benn, for the first time in the NHL

 

"It's a big honor to be close to those people and I'm proud to be there. I worked hard for that but right now it's more important the team game we played. We didn't play a good start, but after that we played a good game and had a big win." -- Andrei Markov on tying Guy Lapointe for second in points by a Canadiens defenseman with 572

 

Need to know

Goalie Al Montoya was expected to start for Montreal but sustained a lower-body injury at the morning skate. Zach Fucale was recalled from Brampton of the ECHL and backed up Price. ... Larry Robinson leads all Canadiens defensemen with 883 points.

 

What's next

Stars: At the Boston Bruins on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, NBCSN, NHL.TV)

Canadiens: Host the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, RDS, FS-F, NHL.TV) 

 

Video: Markov makes franchise history as Habs beat Stars

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