MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens picked a great time for their dormant power play to come alive, scoring two with the man advantage in the third period on their way to a 3-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes at Bell Centre on Tuesday.
With one power-play goal in their past 21 periods heading into the third, Andrei Markov tied the game at 1-1 with his third goal of the season at 2:26 with Phoenix forward David Moss in the box for holding. Max Pacioretty scored his 13th of the season, also on the power play, 13:18 into the third to put the Canadiens ahead for good.
"We took two penalties in the third period. They capitalized. That was the difference in the game," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippet said.
Mikkel Boedker gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead 6:14 into the first period when Canadiens captain Brian Gionta inadvertently tipped the puck off Boedker's skate and past goalie Carey Price. It was Boedker's 10th goal of the season and his eighth on the road.
The Coyotes were able to hold the struggling Montreal offense at bay until Markov's power-play goal. The Canadiens had three shots on goal in the first period, but finished with 28 on the strength of 11 and 14 in the second and third, respectively.
Pacioretty added an empty-netter at even strength with 2.6 seconds left in the third to ice the win for Montreal.
Phoenix had to play with five defensemen for essentially the entire game after Zbynek Michalek went down with a lower-body injury on his first shift 40 seconds into the game and did not return.
Rookie defenseman Connor Murphy picked up some of Michalek's minutes, finishing with 24:32 of ice time. Murphy assisted on Boedker's first-period goal to extend his point streak to three games.
Pacioretty hit the goal post three times before finding the net with his power-play goal. After the game, he acknowledged the frustration that goal erased for him.
“I thought after that, there’s no way one’s going in tonight,” Pacioretty said. “My first two were pretty good shots, but my third one I felt like I should never miss from there. (Brendan Gallagher) told me it might’ve nicked his glove before it hit the post, I’m not sure, but I shouldn’t miss from there.
For the Canadiens, getting their power play jump-started was simply a matter of going back to basics.
“We just got back to simplifying our game, getting on the forecheck and using our speed,” Gallagher said. “When we’re doing that, we’re at our best. We knew after the first two we had to get back to basics, and that’s what we did. We got pucks back behind their D and tried to create chances that way.”
Price, as he's often done throughout the season, kept the Canadiens in the game, especially in the first period when he made 15 of his 26 saves.
It was the Canadiens' penalty kill that kept the game close in the second period, killing off a double minor to Brandon Prust that seemed to change the momentum of the game.
Phoenix was 0-for-4 on the power play.
After making 30 saves in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, Mike Smith was again solid in defeat, making 25 saves.
The Coyotes expressed frustration with how they played to open their four-game road trip.
“They capitalized on their power play and were able to score the key goals,” defenseman Keith Yandle said. “I think it’s just something that for us to be a better team, we have to find ways to win in those situations, especially in a building like this.”
The Coyotes will continue their four-game road trip against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday before playing the Ottawa Senators (Saturday) and Buffalo Sabres (Monday) to conclude the trip.
Phoenix captain Shane Doan, who has been out of the lineup since Dec. 4 with an undisclosed illness, is not on the trip, but could join the team at some point.