MONTREAL — Max Pacioretty scored his ninth goal in the last nine games and the surging Montreal Canadiens stretched their unbeaten run to nine with a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal (18-9-3), which jumped a point ahead of Boston (18-8-2) into first place in the Atlantic Division – although the Bruins have two games in hand. The Canadiens are 8-0-1 in their last nine.
Gregory Campbell scored for Boston, which is 6-2-1 in its past nine.
The first meeting of the season between these bitter rivals had the Bell Centre at top volume to start, but the building got quiet when Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher 4:28 into the game.
Boychuk was injured on a hit by Pacioretty, who got 2 minutes for boarding. Boychuk was able to move all his limbs as he was taken to the hospital, the Bruins said.
After the game, Coach Claude Julien said Boychuk would return to Boston with the team. He had no details of the injury.
“He can travel, but he’s not out of the woods yet,” said Julien, adding that he felt the two minutes Pacioretty got for boarding on the play was the correct call.
“For me it was two minutes, that’s all. It was a check a bit from behind. It was the way he went into the boards.”
The game was delayed several minutes as Boychuk was attended to by medical and training staff on the ice before being wheeled off the ice.
Boychuk had chased the puck into the Canadiens end of the rink. The hit into the end boards to the right of goalie Carey Price did not look particularly hard, but Boychuk’s head struck the top of the boards and he fell to the ice.
He was on his knees breathing heavily for several minutes before trainers got him onto his back and onto the stretcher.
Pacioretty was on the receiving end of a hit from Boston’s Zdeno Chara on March 8, 2011, that left the Canadiens left wing with a concussion and a fractured vertebrae in his neck.
The Bruins controlled the first and third periods and outshot Montreal 33-27. Canadiens goalie Carey Price was especially sharp in the final 20 minutes.
Boston had a 10-3 first-period shot advantage and got the first goal at 17:35. Andrei Markov cleared the puck to the Boston blue line, where Dennis Seidenberg kicked it forward, sending Milan Lucic in on a 2-on-1 break. The big winger slipped a pass to Campbell for a shot into an open side.
Plekanec tied it 9:16 into the second when he beat Tuukka Rask from a tight angle.
Pacioretty backhanded Raphael Diaz’s rebound in from the slot at 17:42.
The Canadiens were playing their third game in four nights, while the Bruins had been off since Saturday. The teams meet again Jan. 30 in Boston.
NOTES: Adam McQuaid (lower body) was out for Boston, while Jordan Caron and Kevan Miller were scratches. … As in other rinks, a moment of silence was held for Nelson Mandela.