MONTREAL (NHL.com) - Max Pacioretty scored his ninth goal in his past nine games, and Carey Price made it stand up with 32 saves to propel the streaking Montreal Canadiens to first place in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens (18-9-3), who improved to 8-0-1 in their past nine games and 10-1-2 in their past 13 by beating the Bruins (18-8-2) for the fourth straight time dating to last season.
Tuukka Rask made 25 saves, and Gregory Campbell scored for Boston, which was limited to one goal or fewer for the third time in 28 games this season.
The Canadiens moved past the Bruins atop the Atlantic Division standings by one point, but Boston holds two games in hand on Montreal. It was the fifth straight game between these teams when first place in the division was at stake.
The Bruins lost defenseman Johnny Boychuk to an injury at 4:28 of the first period when he was hit by Pacioretty and taken off the ice on a stretcher. Boychuk was battling with Pacioretty for a puck along the end boards in the Montreal zone when Pacioretty checked him.
Boychuk immediately went down and remained on all fours for several minutes before being immobilized and wheeled off the ice after a 10-minute delay. Pacioretty was assessed a minor penalty for boarding.
The Bruins announced Boychuk was taken to Montreal General Hospital for observation, able to move his extremities before he left.
The loss of Boychuk hurt the Bruins, already missing defenseman Adam McQuaid with a lower-body injury.
The game at Bell Centre began with some intensity as each team looked to set the pace in the first meeting of the season between the longtime rivals. But the injury to Boychuk and the long delay as he received medical attention appeared to cut that momentum and led to a scattered first period.
The Bruins opened the scoring on a play that fit that rhythm.
A lob clearing attempt by Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov was kicked forward at the Boston blue line by Dennis Seidenberg to a streaking Milan Lucic, who entered the Montreal zone with speed and split Markov and P.K. Subban before feeding Campbell for his second goal of the season at 17:35 of the first.
The Bruins controlled play in the first, outshooting the Canadiens 10-3, but Montreal came roaring back in the second period to score twice and take the lead.
Plekanec tied the game at 9:16 of the period when his sharp-angle shot beat Rask under his left arm for his 10th goal of the season.
Pacioretty made it 2-1 Montreal, finding a rebound loose in the slot and beating a scrambling Rask with a backhand at 17:42 of the second for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
The goal came on the Canadiens' 16th shot of the period; they outshot the Bruins 17-7 in the second.
The Bruins pushed hard to tie it in the third, taking their turn to dominate the shots with a 16-7 edge, but Price denied them at every turn to secure the win for Montreal.