COLUMBUS, Ohio — Carey Price was terrific for the Montreal Canadiens on a night his team was outplayed for much of the game and outshot by the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s how it happens sometimes when things are going right.
Price stopped 34 shots as the Canadiens won their fourth in a row, beating the Blue Jackets 4-1 on Friday night. Surging Montreal has won five of the last six while trying to move out of the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens are a point out of second place behind Toronto.
Columbus, which had its own four-game win streak come to an end, outshot Montreal 35-26, but Price stopped some shots that would have been goals on other nights for the hot Blue Jackets. The Columbus top-liners — Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin — all came up empty after each recorded points in every game of the win streak.
Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia each scored twice as the Canadiens won in Columbus for the first time since 2015.
"It’s a hard league to win on the road," said Tatar, who got his first goals in 11 games, a drought dating to Dec. 28. "We were mentally ready for the game and we played great."
Joonas Korpisalo had 22 saves for the Blue Jackets, who play the second leg of a back-to-back on Saturday before heading into their bye week and the All-Star break.
Korpisalo allowed a big rebound on a slap shot by Shea Weber and Tatar tapped it in for an easy goal for Montreal 6:44 into the game.
Tatar got behind the Columbus defence and beat Korpisalo again in the second period, during a stretch in which the Blue Jackets were dominating but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Columbus got on the board 5:17 into the third period when Oliver Bjorkstrand knocked one into the net amid heavy traffic in front.
Armia got his first after Korpisalo had abandoned the net and was going to the bench to make way for an extra skater. He added an empty-netter with 1:12 left in the game.
"I like the way our team handled the third period," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "We didn’t stop playing, we didn’t give them much, we closed the play quickly. The second (period) was a little bit off. A big win in this building that’s been extremely hot as of late."
The Blue Jackets hit the post four times. Atkinson, the team’s stop scorer and an NHL All-Star, was 0 for 6 shooting the puck.
"I think we played well enough to get at least a point out of that — but we don’t," Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
Columbus is tied for second in points with Washington and one behind the New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.
NOTES: Columbus F Brandon Dubinsky was back in the lineup after missing four games with a strained oblique muscle. Anthony Duclair was a healthy scratch to make room. … Montreal F Paul Byron served the first of a three-game suspension for a charge and hit the head against Florida Panthers defenceman MacKenzie Weegar on Tuesday. Matthew Peca replaced him. … Montreal, with the league’s worst power play, was 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
Montreal: Hosts Philadelphia on Saturday.
Columbus: At Minnesota on Saturday night.