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Rookies help Canadiens come back to defeat Jets

by Arpon Basu /

MONTREAL -- These are not last season's Montreal Canadiens, and the two rookie additions to the team are a big reason there's a difference.

Tomas Plekanec snapped a 3-3 tie with a power-play goal at 5:31 of the third period as the Canadiens picked up their fourth straight win Tuesday night, 4-3 over the Winnipeg Jets, whose three-game win streak ended.

Brendan Gallagher scored in a second straight game and added an assist to be named the first star, and the second star was fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk, the No 3 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft who picked up two assists for a second game in a row.

"It was pretty cool; obviously you don't go into a game expecting to be a first star, you just want to contribute any way you can," Gallagher said. "The way the fans treat us is really incredible, and we really enjoy playing in front of them."

Galchenyuk has five points in five games to sit fourth in NHL rookie scoring, and Gallagher is one spot behind his linemate with four points in four games.

"They have [confidence] right now and I want to make sure we keep building that confidence," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who is limiting the ice time of his two rookies but has incorporated them into the team's second power-play unit. "It's a process working with young kids, and right now those two are bringing a lot of energy to our team, they work hard and they deserve the success that they have because of their work ethic and their passion."

Galchenyuk and Gallagher have combined for seven points in the past two games playing on a line with Brandon Prust, though Therrien put them with Erik Cole on the power play Tuesday night. The two roomed together through training camp and developed a quick friendship that appears to be translating to the ice.

"He's a young guy (20), I'm a young guy (18) and we're excited to play every team, because we've never played against them," Galchenyuk said. "We're just trying to go out there and have fun."

The Canadiens gave up a two-goal lead for a second straight game but managed to pick up the victory in spite of goaltender Carey Price's first difficult outing of the season, allowing three goals on 21 shots.

The team made a bad habit of not only losing leads last season, but also losing those games. That hasn't been the case this season.

"We stayed focused, we stayed resilient through the bad parts of the game where we had a couple of bad shifts, but we were able to come back strong with some better shifts," Plekanec said. "That's a big difference."

Rene Bourque and Cole also scored for the Canadiens (4-1-0), who will travel to face the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday to complete the team's first set of back-to-back games this season.

Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov continued his torrid start to the season with two assists on the power play, giving him seven power-play points on the Canadiens' eight goals scored with the man advantage.

"He has a huge impact on our team, not just on the power play but 5-on-5," Plekanec said. "He's playing unbelievable."

Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler scored his third goal in four games, and Nik Antropov and Olli Jokinen each scored their first of the season for the Jets (3-2-1), who lost for the first time this season when allowing the game's first goal (3-1-0).

Ondrej Pavelec gave up four goals for the second time in five starts this season, stopping 22 shots to put his record at 2-2-1.

"Going into the third period you're tied 3-3 and you have an opportunity to maybe get the game, you've just got to be patient," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "We ran into penalty issues, and when we got the power play we never capitalized on it. For us, it wasn't a very well managed game from a discipline standpoint and from not taking advantage of our opportunities."

The Jets have lost all three games they have played at the Bell Centre since moving back to Winnipeg at the beginning of last season, and have lost four of five against the Canadiens overall.

With the game tied 3-3 in the third period, Plekanec took a what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot from the right faceoff circle, except the puck deflected off Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey's skate and in to give Montreal the lead.

Consecutive penalties to Prust for goaltender interference and embellishment midway through the third period gave the Jets a great opportunity to tie the game, but they were unable to take advantage and saw their record on the road drop to 1-1-1.

"We had an opportunity to make it a game with two power plays in the third period, and we never really got anything," Noel said. "We barely got it in the zone with possession."

The Canadiens jumped out to a 2-0 lead for a fourth straight game in the first period.

Bourque scored his first of the season on a power play off a feed from Markov at 8:04, one-timing a shot past Pavelec. Gallagher made it 2-0 when he rifled a shot under the crossbar on Pavelec's glove side at 14:22.

Wheeler cut the lead in half on a Jets power play at 16:10 when his slap shot from the right faceoff circle squeezed through Price and trickled over the line.

The Jets tied it in the second period when Antropov scored three seconds after a Jets power play expired, converting a rebound with Price caught out of position at 3:32. Jokinen gave Winnipeg the lead when he snapped a shot high on the stick side at 11:48.

But Cole tied it 3-3 off a goalmouth scramble for his first of the season, three seconds after a Canadiens power play ended.

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