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Subban, Markov lead Canadiens past Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Defense partners P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov were stellar at both ends of the ice in the Montreal Canadiens' 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

Subban had a goal and two assists, and Markov scored and had an assist. Each had a plus-5 rating.

"They played a fantastic game," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "They controlled the game. They were good offensively. They were really solid defensively as well. They're transition and passing was really sharp."

The Canadiens (40-16-5) had plenty of players contribute to their third straight win.

Rookie left wing Jacob De La Rose scored the first two goals of his NHL career, and Max Pacioretty scored his 30th goal.

De La Rose scored his first goal in his 12th game with a redirect of a Brandon Prust shot at 5:33 of the third period for a 4-1 Canadiens lead.

"It's a great feeling. I've been waiting for it," De La Rose said. "I was trying to get a stick on it and I felt something touch my stick. I didn't know at first."

Columbus (26-30-4) got the goal back when rookie right wing Marko Dano pounced on a rebound 2:20 later for his third goal to cut the Montreal lead to 4-2.

After struggling in eight games with the Blue Jackets in October and November, Dano has been better since being recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Feb. 17.

"Every game I'm battling for a spot next year," he said. "I think I can make an impression right now."

De La Rose scored into an empty net with 17 seconds left in the game to seal Columbus' fourth straight loss (0-3-1).

Carey Price made 25 saves for his 10th straight road win to extend the Canadiens record he set in a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

Price allowed a goal to Brandon Dubinsky early in the first period, but the Columbus center left the game with an upper-body injury sustained on the play when he was checked into the end boards by Canadiens defenseman Tom Gilbert.

"He's arguably been our best player every night the way he makes plays and competes," Columbus left wing Scott Hartnell said. "Even on that goal, it was classic [Dubinsky] wanting to go to the net. It looked pretty scary on that hit."

Subban and Markov scored to sandwich the Dubinsky goal during a 2:36 span early in the first to give the Canadiens a lead they would not relinquish.

Montreal jumped ahead on Subban's 12th goal of the season, his first in 16 games, 1:49 after the opening faceoff. It was the Canadiens' third shot of the game.

Former Blue Jackets center Manny Malhotra won the draw in the right circle back to Markov, who fed the puck to the opposite point to Subban.

"We had a good start. That's what we wanted," Subban said. "We were ready. We've done a good job of that of late, especially the second half. It's important now, especially now with teams being competitive trying to make the playoffs."

Dubinsky tied the score 54 seconds after Subban's goal with a rush down the right wing and a wrist shot under the crossbar for his eighth goal.

Markov was then set up by David Desharnais at 4:25 for his eighth goal. Markov has three goals and eight assists in the past 11 games.

Pacioretty scored at 14:36 of the first period to put the Canadiens ahead 3-1. He scored five goals in three games against the Blue Jackets this season.

It is the third 30-goal season of Pacioretty's career. He had 39 last season and 33 in 2011-12.

The Blue Jackets penchant for falling behind continued. In their previous two games, they trailed 3-0 after 21:24 against the New York Rangers and 3-1 after 22 minutes against the Buffalo Sabres.

"Our themes lately have been tough first periods," said Columbus goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who made 22 saves. "That comes back on my part. I could have been a lot better in that first period for this team."

Columbus made two trades Thursday, including a deal that sent injured right wing Nathan Horton to the Toronto Maple Leafs for right wing David Clarkson. Minor-league forward Adam Cracknell was traded to the St. Louis Blues for future considerations.

The Canadiens made a trade Tuesday, acquiring forward Devante Smith-Pelly from the Anaheim Ducks for forward Jiri Sekac.

Smith-Pelly had two shots on goal in 17:11, including 1:23 on the power play, in his Montreal debut.

"That was fun," he said. "I haven't been in that situation for a while."

Smith-Pelly received a crash course over the past two days on Montreal's systems.

"I went over most every situation," he said. "It's a lot different than Anaheim in most situations. I thought I did all right for the first time tonight."

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