Jaroslav Spacek scored the tying goal in the second period and Benoit Pouliot put Montreal ahead for good in the third as the Canadiens beat New York 2-1 on Tuesday night and snapped the Rangers' three-game winning streak.
Spacek connected for the first time in 29 games with 1:11 left in the middle period after the Canadiens controlled play in the Rangers' end for about two consecutive minutes. Pouliot scored his second in three games with a tough-angle shot 6:03 into the final period.
New York came out flying early, buoyed by consecutive one-goal wins at Dallas and St. Louis, but couldn't sustain the momentum after Brandon Dubinsky gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 4:15 in. Henrik Lundqvist, named an NHL All-Star earlier Tuesday, was solid in making 36 saves, but likely would want another chance at Pouliot's winning drive.
Alex Auld, who played in three games with the Rangers last season, stopped 25 shots and earned his third win of the season despite getting into only six games with Montreal.
The Rangers were the dominant team in the first period, even though they were outshot 14-9.
Less than a minute after newly acquired Wojtek Wolski nearly scored with a hard one-timer in close off a crisp pass from Gaborik, Dubinsky gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
Dubinsky took a pass from defenseman Matt Gilroy and streaked down the right wing into the Montreal zone. He blew past diving defenseman Hal Gill as he made a hard cut to the net with one hand on his stick. He gathered himself in front and snapped a shot past Auld. Dubinsky has 17 goals, three off his career high established last season.
Lundqvist has earned an assist in a Rangers' record three straight appearances, giving him a career best of four this season.
Montreal found its legs early in the second and showed more life throughout the period. It paid off when they camped out in the Rangers' zone later.
After moving the puck skillfully around the New York end, Spacek put a shot on net that got through traffic and found its way past Lundqvist under a pileup in the crease. A brief video replay confirmed Spacek's second of the season.
Pouliot snapped the tie in the third after taking a pass from defenseman James Wisniewski and carrying the puck up ice. He let go a shot from deep in the left circle that sneaked in over Lundqvist's right shoulder.
Lundqvist had staved off the Canadiens quite well early in the second when Montreal had three good shots during a power play.
Rangers captain Chris Drury just missed scoring when his drive with 4:40 left in the second rattled off the goal post.
Wolski showed flashes in his Rangers debut, one day after being acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes for veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival. Wolski was put on a line with Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov with the hope he will be able to pick up some of the scoring slack created by injuries to forwards Alex Frolov, Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal, and Erik Christensen.
Wolski nearly tied it with 3 minutes left, but his shot from the low right circle hit Auld's pad and tantalizingly slid safely across the crease.
NOTES: The last NHL goalie with an assist in three straight games was Dallas' Ed Belfour from Nov. 23-Dec. 2, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Canadiens LW Mike Cammalleri didn't make the trip because of an illness that forced him out of Saturday's win over Boston. ... New York hasn't won four straight since Dec. 17-23, 2009. ... Rangers C Kris Newbury, recalled from Connecticut (AHL) on Sunday after Frolov was injured, was scratched. He has yet to make his Rangers debut. ... With the trade of Rozsival, New York now has the NHL's sixth-youngest roster (26 years, 210 days) and the league's youngest defense corps (24 years, 328 days). ... Canadiens C Scott Gomez, who spent a disappointing two seasons with New York, heard boos throughout the game. ... Dubinsky has 17 points in 18 games — five goals and 12 assists.