ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves in his first game against his former Montreal teammates to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Canadiens 4-1 on Thursday night.
Montreal was playing its first game without left winger Max Pacioretty, out indefinitely with a severe concussion and fractured fourth vertebrae as a result of a check Tuesday night at the hands of Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara. Pacioretty was released from the hospital Thursday.
Andy McDonald had a goal and two assists, and Matt D’Agostini added a goal and an assist for St. Louis.
The Blues’ faint playoff hopes remained alive with their third win in a row as Halak, a playoff star for Montreal last season, got back at his former team in the process, outdueling Carey Price.
Price stopped 23 shots, but the Canadiens saw their five-game winning streak come to an end. David Backes had a goal and T.J. Oshie added a short-handed empty-netter for the Blues.
Jeff Halpern scored for Montreal.
McDonald gave the Blues a 2-1 lead 1:06 into the second period after D’Agostini poked the puck away from Benoit Pouliot in the offensive zone. McDonald found himself alone in front of Price and snapped a wrister past the blocker side.
Halpern opened the scoring for the Canadiens on Alexandre Picard’s feed into the low slot, redirecting the puck past Halak 12:30 into the opening period. Backes tied it with his 24th of the season off McDonald’s faceoff win with a quick shot from the slot, beating Price with 1:01 left in the first.
D’Agostini, who was also playing the Canadiens for the first time since being dealt to the Blues last March, sealed the game by converting McDonald’s feed into the slot on a 2-on-1 with 1:29 remaining.
NOTES: McDonald has 21 points in 19 games since returning from a concussion. … Canadiens C Lars Eller, the Blues’ first-round pick in 2007 and part of the trade that brought Halak to St. Louis, faced his former team for the first time as well. Eller has four goals in six games after scoring three in the first 57. … The Blues will be without LW Alex Steen (high ankle sprain) and D Barret Jackman (broken index finger) for 4-6 weeks. Both were injured in Wednesday’s overtime win at Columbus. … Canadiens LW Andrei Kostitsyn has nine points in eight games.
Copyright Associated Press