MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens handed Peter DeBoer his first loss as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, 5-4 in a shootout at Bell Centre on Saturday.
Reilly Smith tied the game for Vegas with a goal with eight seconds left. The Golden Knights won 4-2 at the Ottawa Senators in DeBoer's debut Thursday, one day after Gerard Gallant was fired.
"I thought we showed a lot of character," said DeBoer, who was fired by the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 11. "That's a big hole anywhere, particularly in this building, so I thought it didn't rattle us. I actually thought at the end of the first, you know, they earned their goals. We had some opportunities we didn't execute on; we could have had a couple too. So that's a big deficit, we didn't quit, we got to work and scratched out a point, an important point."
[WATCH: All Golden Knights vs. Canadiens highlights]
Nick Cousins scored twice for Montreal (22-21-7), which led 3-0 after one period and 4-2 with 1:58 to play but recovered for its fourth win in five games.
"We definitely don't like making it easy on ourselves," Cousins said.
Carey Price made 31 saves for his fourth straight win with the Canadiens entering the All-Star break.
"It might not have been pretty, but it was exciting for our fans," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "We got the two points, we'll take them and head off on vacation."
Video: VGK@MTL: Price seals SO win with save on Smith
Tomas Tatar scored on the Canadiens' fourth shootout attempt, and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored in the tie-breaker after scoring for the third time in two games.
"It feels good but the last two minutes we can't play like that," said Kovalchuk, who has eight points (four goals, four assists) in eight games since signing with Montreal on Jan. 3.
Max Pacioretty scored at 18:02 of the third with an extra attacker on to draw Vegas (25-19-7) within 4-3. The Golden Knights tied it when Smith deflected Paul Stastny's shot past Price.
"We did a good job battling back," Smith said. "We're still putting ourselves in the same situation where we're getting off to slow starts and the other teams are capitalizing. So we've got to find a way to turn that around because it's too hard to come back in every game."
Video: VGK@MTL: Smith deflects in late equalizer
The Golden Knights are 1-4-1 following a four-game winning streak.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves in his fourth straight start, including a double-pad stack on Kovalchuk with 50 seconds left in overtime.
"He's quite the character. He's quite the acrobat in there," Price said. "He's fun to watch. He competes every night and I respect him a lot."
Fleury remains tied with Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers for fifth place on the NHL all-time win list with 458.
"It's a tough battle every night to get some points but everybody's committed and wants to do the right things to keep coming in the standings and make the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs," Fleury said.
Dale Weise assisted on each of Cousins' goals, the first which made it 1-0 at 5:51 of the first period, and his second of the game at 9:40 of the third top put Montreal up 4-2.
Kovalchuk, who scored twice in a 4-1 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, made it 2-0 with his 440th NHL goal on a rebound of Phillip Danault's shot at 12:33.
Video: VGK@MTL: Kovalchuk cleans up own rebound
Joel Armia put Montreal up 3-0 at 18:05.
Marchessault made it 3-1 with his 16th goal at 9:08 of the second, a wrist shot to the top right corner from the slot. Stastny drew Vegas within 3-2 with an unassisted goal at 14:47.
They said it
"I feel like our team is playing with good intensity. We're working hard, that's our identity, and we've played two good games overall." -- Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault
"It's Saturday night, you know, fans want a show, so they got it." -- Canadiens forward Ilya Kovalchuk
Need to know
Pacioretty's goal was his first in three games against the Canadiens since they traded him to the Golden Knights on Sept. 10, 2018. He had one assist in his two previous games against Montreal. … Stastny had his second straight two-point game. He has nine points (four goals, five assists) in eight games. … Kovalchuk's goal was his first in Montreal since Feb. 6, 2011, when he scored twice for the New Jersey Devils in a 4-1 win against the Canadiens. He has scored eight goals at Bell Centre, including his first five with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Video: VGK@MTL: Pacioretty makes it a one-goal game
Golden Knights: At the Boston Bruins on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, TVAS, NESN, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)
Canadiens: Host the Washington Capitals on Jan. 27 (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)
Video: Cousins, Tatar lift Canadiens to shootout win