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Pacioretty's line leads Canadiens over Rangers 4-1

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist, linemates David Desharnais and Erik Cole also had three points each, and the Montreal Canadiens ended a three-game skid with a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday night.

Pacioretty opened the scoring 2:39 in and restored Montreal's one-goal lead at 2-1 with his 15th of the season 3:54 into the second. The Canadiens scored three times in the middle period.

Desharnais had a goal and two assists, and Cole had three assists on a line that combined for nine points.

Peter Budaj made 28 saves, and Mike Blunden also scored for Montreal (17-20-8), which is 12th in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens, 18 points behind East-leading New York, have won six straight against the Rangers at home.

John Mitchell scored in the first for the Rangers, who became the first team to reach 60 points this season when they beat Toronto 3-0 on Saturday night. However, New York has lost two of three after a 10-1 spurt.

Henrik Lundqvist, who was rested Saturday, stopped 25 shots.

Rene Bourque made his Montreal debut after he was acquired from Calgary on Thursday in a multiplayer trade that sent Michael Cammalleri to the Flames. Bourque sat out Saturday night's 3-2 shootout loss as he served the final game of a five-game suspension for elbowing Washington's Nicklas Backstrom in the head on Jan 3.

Pacioretty fired a loose puck in the slot over a sprawled Lundqvist to give the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead. He made it 2-1 when he deflected in Cole's shot early in the second.

Blunden increased the lead to 3-1 with his second goal at 7:11.

Desharnais finished off a nice centering pass by Pacioretty from the right side for his seventh goal, Montreal's third in a row at 12:18.

Mitchell scored his third of the season 12:49 into the first to tie it at 1. He put away a rebound after Budaj made the initial stop on Derek Stepan's point-blank one-timer off a pass from Marian Gaborik from behind the net.

Montreal left wing Mathieu Darche was struck around the throat by teammate Lars Eller's shot early in the third. Darche held his glove to his throat as he skated off the ice and went directly to the medical room, but he returned moments later.

Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler was hospitalized Saturday after he was struck in the throat during the Jets' loss to New Jersey.

NOTES: Rangers C Brandon Dubinsky missed his third straight game because of a shoulder injury. ... C Petteri Nokelainen and D Chris Campoli were left out of Montreal's lineup. ... No. 1 Canadiens G Carey Price had made nine straight starts, and 18 of 19, before getting the night off.