MONTREAL - Max Pacioretty scored twice to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-1 victory over the visiting St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Dale Weise and Lars Eller also scored for Montreal (15-5-1). Carey Price stopped 31-of-32 shots.
Vladimir Tarasenko was the lone scorer for St. Louis (12-6-1), while Jake Allen made 26 saves in defeat.
Pacioretty scored the winner at 7:32 of the second ? his team-leading ninth goal of the year. Pacioretty got the better of Allen on the breakaway after taking a stretch saucer pass from linemate Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau from his own zone.
The Canadiens stretch their lead atop the Eastern Conference to three points. The Blues, meanwhile, have lost consecutive games after winning 10 of their previous 11.
Tarasenko brought back memories of the defunct Montreal Expos when he scored the opener at 7:45 of the first, batting the puck out of midair like a baseball slugger at the plate. The 22-year-old displayed impressive hand-eye co-ordination on the goal, which came on just the Blues' third shot on Price.
The period was played largely in the neutral zone and along the boards, and the Canadiens failed to score a goal in the first period for the 16th time this season.
After going 96:09 without scoring a goal ??? Montreal had not found the back of the net since the third period against Detroit on Sunday ??? the Canadiens scored twice in quick succession against the Blues.
Weise jumped on a defensive blunder by Kevin Shattenkirk to tie the game 1-1 at 4:50 of the second. Shattenkirk made an ill-advised pass out from behind his net that was intercepted by Weise, who patiently waited for Allen to go down before beating the Blues netminder up high for his fourth of the year.
Weise bettered his goal total from last season, when the 26-year-old scored three times in 17 regular-season games.
Pacioretty scored less than three minutes later.
In the third, after Price made back-to-back sensational saves on two different odd-man rushes 20 seconds apart, first on Jori Lehtera and then on Jaden Schwartz, Pacioretty added his second of the game on a clever scooped pass by David Desharnais.
The Habs were exceptionally well disciplined for the second game in a row, as Michel Therrien's men took no penalties against St. Louis' league-best power play on the road (30.4 per cent).
Earlier in the day, the Canadiens acquired veteran defenceman Bryan Allen from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Rene Bourque.
Allen has 29 goals and 106 in 716 career regular season games.
"He's a big guy with a lot of character who played for one the best Western Conference teams," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said before Montreal's home game against the St. Louis Blues. "I can't see why he wouldn't be able to help us here in Montreal."
Notes: Therrien made no changes to the attacking lines that lost 4-0 to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. At the blue-line, defenceman Mike Weaver was back in the lineup. ??? The Blues came into the encounter with a league-low 1.89 goals-against-average. ??? St. Louis had not lost a game in Montreal since 2004. ??? Montreal is now 12-0-0 when tied or leading after two periods.