This being the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins, it had to be a one-goal game.
The Canadiens held on for a 2-1 victory against the Bruins on Saturday night at Bell Centre.
Montreal strengthened its hold on first place in the Northeast Division, moving three points ahead of Boston.
Carey Price made 26 saves for the Canadiens, who won three of the four meetings against their Original Six rivals this season.
"It's obviously two big ones. We're battling for the top spot. The playoffs are coming up soon and we're just trying to set the tempo for the rest of the season going into the playoffs," Price said.
Tuukka Rask stopped 27 shots for Boston.
Nine of the last 10 games between these clubs have been decided by one goal.
Montreal forward Lars Eller went off for holding with 57 seconds remaining in the third period. Even with Rask on the bench for a 6-on-4 advantage, the Canadiens did an excellent job keeping Boston to the outside and limiting quality scoring chances.
Canadiens rookie Alex Galchenyuk was credited with a goal at 6:49 of the opening period after his sharp-angle shot caromed in off Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who inadvertently directed the puck into his own net.
"Well, we just didn't play well the first period," said Boston forward Jaromir Jagr. "I'm happy about the way we played in the second and third. We've got to play like that the rest of the season, we're going to be a good team (if we do). It's going to be tough to beat us. We just have to play the way we did in the second and third, not like we played the first."
Montreal extended its lead on a power play 57 seconds into the second period when Michael Ryder tipped P.K. Subban's shot from the right point.
The Bruins were able to beat Price on a carom at 7:10 of the middle stanza. Following a faceoff win in the Montreal zone, defenseman Johnny Boychuk sent a quick shot from the point that deflected in off Daniel Paille, the Bruin who had won the draw.
Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin suffered a lower-body injury in the first period and didn't return. He was injured in a collision with Boston's Milan Lucic ... Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec returned to the lineup after missing one game with a groin injury.