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Desharnais' late goal lifts Canadiens past Bruins

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The red-hot Montreal Canadiens hardly need any breaks right now, so Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was particularly upset that an undisciplined penalty by one of his key players cost his team dearly for a second straight game.

David Desharnais scored a tie-breaking power-play goal with 1:08 left in the third period and Montreal rallied to defeat Boston 4-2 at Bell Centre on Saturday. Desharnais put the rebound of Alex Galchenyuk's shot past Jonas Gustavsson to give the Canadiens (13-2-1) their second power-play goal and first lead.

"Things happen in the game and you just have to stick with it," Desharnais said about Montreal's penalty troubles in the first period, including a bench minor for too many men that led to Boston's first goal. "We got our chances on the power play and we did the job."

The go-ahead goal came after Boston center David Krejci was penalized for cross-checking Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec with 2:03 remaining.

"It wasn't his best penalty," said Plekanec, who scored the Canadiens' first goal but had a second one waved off after a successful coach's challenge.

In a 4-1 loss at the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Bruins forward Brad Marchand took a roughing penalty that led to a 5-on-3 goal by defenseman John Carlson; the goal put Boston (6-6-1) behind by two.

"It's pretty obvious that we've lost the last two games because of that, and the disappointing part is it's coming from our leaders," Julien said. "If you're going to go in the right direction I think it's important that our leaders lead the way the right way. And really, really bad penalties there and the team that we played [Saturday] seems to find ways to win, and right now I'd say we're finding ways to lose."

Krejci could only agree with Julien's assessment.

"He's right," Krejci said. "Stupid penalty; two minutes left, tie game, the guys battled hard and then I do something like that, so it was stupid and it cost us the game."

Lars Eller drew the Canadiens even for a second time with his fifth goal of the season at 8:58 of the third period. Max Pacioretty scored into an empty net with 47.9 seconds remaining.

Mike Condon made 29 saves for Montreal, which went 3-0-1 during a four-game homestand despite losing goalie Carey Price for a week because of a lower-body injury.

"As a group, I think we've been very good over the past five or six games, but it's only about the next game, though," Condon said. "We get the two points here and move on."

Condon has won six of seven starts, and is 4-0-1 in five straight starts.

"He's unbelievable," Plekanec said. "He's playing really well for us. He's going out there and doing a great job."

Frank Vatrano scored in his first NHL game to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead at 8:51 of the second. Loui Eriksson scored a power-play goal in the first period to give Boston an early lead.

Gustavsson made 29 saves for the Bruins, who have lost six in a row to Montreal and are 1-9-2 in their past 12 games against the Canadiens.

Plekanec tied it at 1-1 with a power-play goal at 1:09 of the second, but had an apparent second goal disallowed by a coach's challenge.

Plekanec appeared to have tied the game 2-2 at 4:01 of the third, but the on-ice ruling was overturned when Julien used his challenge and the referees determined that Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher had interfered with Gustavsson in the crease before the puck went in the net.

"They called it a goal on the ice," Gallagher said. "I saw the replay. Obviously I'm getting pushed in and trying to get out of the way. I don't know what else I can do except take it, and thankfully the guys picked me up and we won the game."

Vatrano was recalled Friday from Providence, where he was leading the American Hockey League with 10 goals in 10 games.

"[Vatrano] played well. I thought he competed hard," Julien said. "He scored a goal because he shoots the puck so well, but he's reliable along the walls and he competed. He was physical, he wasn't intimidated, and I thought he played a real solid game for us."

The 21-year-old native of East Longmeadow, Mass., put Boston ahead 2-1 when he cut back high along the right side of the Canadiens' zone after taking a pass from Colin Miller and curled in to beat Condon with a wrist shot from five feet inside the blue line.

"That was an awesome feeling," Vatrano said. "I didn't really know if I got it or if [Eriksson] tipped it in front, but when I found out it was me it was an awesome feeling. But I wish we would have got the two points."

Vatrano's father and uncle leaped to their feet in the stands and were congratulated by a fan in a Canadiens jersey.

"That was great for him to be there for that, and I'm glad he got to see it," Vatrano said.

Miller's assist extended his point streak to six games.

Boston took a 1-0 lead 1:50 into the game when center Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff in the Canadiens' zone and drew the puck back to Ryan Spooner. Bergeron one-timed Spooner's return pass from the top of the right circle, and his shot deflected off Eriksson's right skate and past Condon.

Montreal is 1-1-0 when trailing after two periods, and 2-1-1 when it allows the first goal.

Players on each team wore winter tuques in their respective 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic colors during the pregame warmup. The Canadiens on Friday unveiled the jersey they will wear when they face the Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 1.

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