MONTREAL (NHL.com) - Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski was describing his team's style of play Thursday morning prior to facing his former team, the Montreal Canadiens.
"We try to grind [teams] down," Wisniewski explained, "so that by the third period they just don't want to play anymore."
The Canadiens now know exactly what Wisniewski means.
Ryan Johansen scored the game-winning goal off a Jarred Tinordi turnover with 3:01 remaining in the Blue Jackets' 3-2 victory.
Johansen picked off Tinordi's pass attempt in the neutral zone to go in on goal and beat Carey Price through the legs for his 27th goal of the season on Columbus' 39th shot of the game, taking advantage of the kind of error Wisniewski was referring to.
Derek McKenzie and Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus (36-27-6), which has won seven of its past 10 games (7-2-1) to solidify its footing in the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
The primary reason the game was so close was Price, who stopped 37 shots compared to 25 by counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Blue Jackets have outshot their opponents 87-47 over their past two games.
Columbus entered 0-for-18 on the power play over their previous six games and went 0-for-8. Over those seven games when they were 0-for-26, the Blue Jackets have scored twice shorthanded, including McKenzie's goal that tied the game 1-1 in the first period Thursday.
The Blue Jackets got a breakaway off the opening faceoff when Wisniewski sprung Cam Atkinson only to be foiled by a Price pad save.
It was a sign of things to come.
The Blue Jackets buzzed around the Canadiens zone for much of the period, but allowed Montreal to score first when Johansen took the first of his three first-period penalties (including a fighting major with Max Pacioretty).
Tomas Plekanec set up Alex Galchenyuk for a one-timer that was stopped by Bobrovsky, but the rebound popped in the air and was batted by Gallagher. The puck bounced off Bobrovsky as he dove to get back in position and rolled into the net for Gallagher's 18th of the season at 14:53.
After Johansen was called for cross-checking 41 seconds after the goal, the Canadiens were called for icing, leading to a faceoff in their zone.
Mark Letestu took the draw for Columbus and got a shot high on Price as soon as the puck was dropped. McKenzie drove the net from his position at right wing and put in the rebound that sat in the crease for his eighth of the season at 15:53.
The Blue Jackets dominated the second period by outshooting Montreal 13-7 and came out of it with a one-goal lead.
Dubinsky scored his 14th of the season at 6:53 when he cashed in a rebound of a Jack Johnson shot to make it 2-1.
The Blue Jackets had five power plays between the time that goal was scored and Vanek tied the game 2-2 at 7:46 of the third, his 25th of the season, fourth in two games, on a one-timer from the faceoff circle off a Pacioretty feed.