NEW YORK - Robert Lang scored his second career hat trick to help lift the Montreal Canadiens to a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
Lang and Andrei Markov broke a tight game open with power-play goals just over two minutes apart.
There had been only one penalty called before New York's Aaron Voros went off for hooking 2:29 into the third period. Tomas Plekanec won the ensuing faceoff over to Markov, who whistled in his sixth goal.
The Rangers - tied in points with Philadelphia atop the Atlantic Division - took the next two penalties as well, setting up a 5-on-3 advantage that Lang converted into a 4-2 Canadiens lead at 4:40 with the first of his three goals.
Michal Rozsival got the Rangers back within a goal two minutes later, but New York lost for the fifth time in seven games (2-4-1). Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan scored tying goals earlier.
Former Rangers star Alex Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse staked Montreal to a pair of one-goal leads in front of goalie Jaroslav Halak, who subbed for injured all-star starter Carey Price for the third straight game. Halak made 36 saves and was helped by his teammates, who weren't short-handed until there was 3:42 left.
Lang made it 5-3 with 4:31 remaining during 4-on-4 play and finished his second NHL hat trick with an empty-netter. Montreal, on a 7-1-1 spurt, jumped one point ahead of the Rangers into fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 shots, but couldn't build off a shutout of Pittsburgh on Monday.
The Rangers managed to tie it for a second time in the middle period, despite chasing the speedy Canadiens for large chunks of the frame. Montreal controlled play over the final nine minutes after Rozsival went off for hooking - the game's first penalty.
Callahan, however, made it 2-2 at 9:25 when he took a feed from Scott Gomez, who found him for a one-timer past Halak for his 12th goal.
New York outshot Montreal 12-8 in the second period, after each team recorded nine shots in the first.
Lundqvist, who after posting his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory Monday lamented his propensity to allow early goals, did it again 3:05 in. The Rangers goalie, never known for fine puck-handling skills, backhanded a pass behind his net but it was intercepted by Canadiens rookie Max Pacioretty in the corner.
Pacioretty, playing in his third NHL game, threaded a pass in front between defenders Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal and onto the stick of Kovalev, who flipped in his 10th while cutting from right to left.
Drury created the first tie when he followed up his drive from the right circle and swept the puck in front off a few bodies and past Halak with 2:38 left in the first.
Lundqvist's second gaffe helped hand the lead back to Montreal. Roman Hamrlik fired the puck from his side of centre ice, and Lundqvist left a big rebound that Latendresse put in with 1:07 remaining.
Notes: The Canadiens were again without C Saku Koivu (leg), LW Christopher Higgins (shoulder), LW Alex Tanguay (shoulder), RW Mathieu Dandenault (arm) and RW Georges Laraque (groin), all on the injured list. ... Pacioretty, from nearby New Canaan, Conn., has points in two of his first three games. He scored a goal in his NHL debut Friday at New Jersey. ... Francis Bouillon took the first Montreal penalty when he was called for roughing along with New York's Nikolai Zherdev. Hamrlik went off for hooking moments later. ... The Rangers had beaten Montreal four straight times at home.