MONTREAL – The often bitter rivalry between Montreal and Boston is going the Canadiens’ way.
Former Bruin Michael Ryder’s power-play goal 57 seconds into the second period lifted the Canadiens to a 2-1 victory over Boston on Saturday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the Northeast Division.
Alex Galchenyuk also scored and Carey Price made 26 saves for the Canadiens (25-8-5), who won 3 of 4 against the Bruins this season.
The Canadiens lead the division by three points with Boston holding a game in hand.
“Every time we play this team it’s the most important game,” Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said. “We’ve had a couple of good ones against these guys.
“We played a full 60 minutes and that’s what was impressive. They had some good push. That’s a good hockey team over there, but we held our ground and played hard.”
Daniel Paille scored for Boston, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The Canadiens were down one defenseman from the midway point of the first period when Alexei Emelin appeared to sustain a left knee injury in a thunderous collision with Bruins forward Milan Lucic.
Montreal had a one-goal lead at the time. Galchenyk, who scored for a second game in a row, slipped the puck into traffic in the crease, and Boston defenseman Matt Batkowski put it into his own net at 6:49.
The teams exchanged goals in the second.
A cross-checking penalty by Lucic put Montreal on the power play. Ryder deflected P.K. Subban’s wrist shot into the top corner.
The game featured chances at both ends, and some big hits and big saves from Price and Tuukka Rask, but none of the controversial incidents that often mark games between these rivals.
Montreal held a 29-27 edge in shots.
“We battled back,” Rask said. “They got the lead but we got better.
“We just couldn’t get the puck in the net. That was it. If you look at all three goals scored, if you ask me or Price, it should have been a 0-0 game.”
Paille won a faceoff against David Desharnais in the Montreal zone, and Johnny Boychuk’s shot went in off his back at 7:10.
The Bruins had a chance during a power play in the final minute and pulled Rask for an extra skater, but still couldn’t get a shot on goal.