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COLUMBUS — Jeff Petry scored his career-high eighth goal of the season at 9:08 of the third period to spoil Sergei Bobrovsky’s bid for a second consecutive shutout over the Canadiens, but the Columbus goaltender made 36 saves and the Blue Jackets hung on for a 2-1 win Friday night at Nationwide Arena. Bobrovsky, who won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2013, posted his NHL-best 21st win. Al Montoya, who was on the losing end of a 10-0 decision here on Nov. 4, did enough to give the Canadiens a chance to win, but he didn’t receive enough offensive support.
Streaking Jackets: The Jackets have a 12-game win streak, which has lifted them into first place overall in the NHL with 50 points from a 23-5-4 record and they have games in hand on all of their closest pursuers. The Canadiens remain on top in the Atlantic Division, but their lead over the second-place Ottawa Senators has been trimmed to three points.
Gagner opens the scoring: The Canadiens opened the door for the Blue Jackets when they were penalized for having too many men on the ice at 17:34 of the first period. It took only 16 seconds for Sam Gagner to open the scoring with his 14th goal of the season on a setup from Nick Foligno. The 27-year-old Gagner, who signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Blue Jackets in the off-season, is on pace for the most productive season of his career. A former first-round draft choice of the Oilers, Gagner had 18 goals with Edmonton in 2020-11.
Reversal of fortunes: The Canadiens came out strong in the second period and tested Bobrovsky with a three-shot flurry that began with a breakaway by Torrey Mitchell. The Blue Jackets responded on the same shift as they applied pressure in the Canadiens’ zone and were rewarded when Foligno found Brandon Saad in the slot at 1:22.
Speed only goes so far: The Canadiens managed to get three breakaways, but failed to beat Bobrovsky. Chris Terry had one in the first period, while Torrey Mitchell and Paul Byron had chances in the second period. Byron had a shorthanded chance after picking Saad’s pocket. He tried to pull the puck wide on his forehand, but Bobrovsky read the move and made a leg save.
Special teams: The Blue Jackets went 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Canadiens only had two power plays and failed to score.
Thin on defence: The Canadiens played without two of their top four defencemen for a second consecutive night. Alexei Emelin remained in Montreal with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s third child Thursday. Andrei Markov accompanied the team on this trip, but he wasn’t available because he’s on the injured-reserve list with a lower-body injury.
Life on the road: The Canadiens make a brief return to Montreal to celebrate Christmas before they continue their road trip with back-to-back games against the Lightning on Wednesday in Tampa and the Panthers on Thursday in Sunrise, Fla. They’ll be in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve to face the Penguins.