Eastern showdown goes to Canadiens

– When star goalie Carey Price exited again because of an injury, the Montreal Canadiens responded.

Devante Smith-Pelly and Alex Galchenyuk scored in the opening 1:29 of the third period, and Montreal beat the New York Rangers 5-1 Wednesday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

Smith-Pelley had two goals. Sven Andrighetto and Max Pacioretty also scored for the Canadiens, who have handed the Rangers (16-4-2) two of their four losses in regulation this season.

Price stopped 22 shots in the first two periods and was replaced at the start of the third by Mike Condon in a 2-1 game. After it was over, coach Michel Therrien said Price was sidelined by the same lower-body injury that kept him out for eight games earlier this month. This was his third game back.

Price was the NHL MVP and Vezina Trophy winner last season as the league's top goalie.

Rick Nash scored for the Rangers in their largest loss of the season. New York had won nine in a row at home and 11 of 12 overall.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was lifted after Pacioretty's power-play goal made it 5-1.

HIGHLIGHTS

• FINALLY, A GOAL: Mike Fisher ended Nashville's franchise-record scoring drought in the first period and the Predators beat the host Sabres 3-2 to end a three-game losing streak. The Predators were outscored 11-0 over the first three games of this five-game trip. They hadn't scored since the second period of a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 17. The loss was Buffalo's sixth straight. "We weren't going to get shut out the rest of the year," coach Peter Laviolette said. "That would be impossible, right? They do the right things, they put the puck at the net. It's going to go in."

• CROSBY SCORES TWICE: Sidney Crosby scored two goals in a regular-season game for the first time since Feb. 12 of last season and the host Penguins beat the Blues 4-3 in overtime. They also were the first two goals for Crosby in 11 career games against the Blues. He has 10 points in his past 12 games this season. Earlier in the day, reports surfaced of a rift between Crosby and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, a claim Lemieux publicly denied.

• BRUINS HAVE RED WINGS' NUMBER: The Bruins beat the Red Wings for the sixth consecutive time when Frank Vatrano scored his second goal of the game at 3:32 of overtime for a 3-2 victory. Pavel Datsyuk became the sixth player in Detroit history with at least 300 goals, 500 assists and 800 points. The others are Henrik Zetterberg, Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe. Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin had scored a goal in four straight games, but his streak came to an end.

• FLYERS, ISLANDERS GO AT IT: The first of five meetings this season between the Flyers and Islanders was a chippy affair. Tempers boiled over in the second period when the Islanders' Nick Leddy fought the Flyers' Claude Giroux. Leddy had earned the Flyers' ire in the first period after boarding Michael Raffl face-first into the half boards. The host Islanders won 3-1.

• NOTES: Canadiens GM and executive vice president Marc Bergevin, who had a year left on his contract, signed a multiyear extension through the end of the 2021-22 season. The Canadiens have made the playoffs in three straight seasons under Bergevin's watch. … Patrik Elias made his first appearance of the season for the Devils in a 2-1 home loss to Columbus. The team's career leader in goals and points had been sidelined since training camp because of a right knee injury.

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