The often bitter rivalry between Montreal and Boston is going the Canadiens' way.
Michael Ryder's power-play goal 57 seconds into the second period lifted the Canadiens to a 2-1 victory over the Bruins on Saturday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the Northeast Division.
Alex Galchenyuk also scored and Carey Price made 26 saves for the Canadiens (25-8-5), who won three of four against the Bruins this season. The Canadiens lead the division by three points, with Boston holding a game in hand.
"Every time we play this team it's the most important game," Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said. "We've had a couple of good ones against these guys.
"We played a full 60 minutes, and that's what was impressive. They had some good push. That's a good hockey team over there, but we held our ground and played hard."
The Canadiens (25-8-5) have won five of six.
"We're finding ways to win games," Canadiens center Lars Eller said. "This time we protected a lead over three periods. The last game we played in Boston we caught up after being behind by two goals.
"There's a lot to like about this team. Really. But there are still 10 games to go, and if you want to go to the Stanley Cup finals you have to be good enough to beat every team. You want to finish with as good a record as you can and feel good going in, and this one felt really good."
Daniel Paille scored for Boston (24-9-4), which had a three-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 5-5-1 in its last 11.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien was impressed that his team came through a stretch of five games in eight days with eight points. It included a comeback 6-5 shootout win at Boston on March 27.
The Canadiens were down one defenseman from the midway point of the first period when Alexei Emelin appeared to sustain a left knee injury in a thunderous collision while taking a run at big Bruins forward Milan Lucic.
Therrien said Emelin had a lower body injury, adding he would know more about Emelin's status after he is examined on Sunday.
Montreal had a one-goal lead at the time. Galchenyk, who scored for a second game in a row, slipped the puck into traffic in the crease, and Matt Batkowski put it into his own net at 6:49.
The teams exchanged goals in the second.
A cross-checking penalty by Lucic put Montreal on the power play to start the period. Ryder deflected P.K. Subban's wrist shot into the top corner only 57 seconds in. It was Ryder's sixth goal in six games.
The game featured good chances at both ends and some big hits and big saves from Price and Tuukka Rask, but none of the controversial incidents that often mark games between these rivals.
Montreal held a 29-27 edge in shots.
"We battled back," Rask said. "They got the lead but we got better.
"We just couldn't get the puck in the net. That was it. If you look at all three goals scored, if you ask me or Price, it should have been a 0-0 game."
Paille won a faceoff against David Desharnais in the Montreal zone, and Johnny Boychuk's shot went in off his back at 7:10.
The Bruins had a chance during a power play in the final minute, and pulled Rask for an extra skater, but still couldn't get a shot on goal.
They were still looking to pass as time expired.
"I didn't know what time it was," newly acquired forward Jaromir Jagr said. "We were looking for the perfect shot.
"Maybe we should have taken some shots, but we didn't. It's OK. You have to learn from that. It's sad that we lost, but I'm happy with how we played the second and third periods."
NOTES: Canadiens C Tomas Plekanec returned after missing one game due to a suspected groin injury, bumping Michael Blundin from the lineup. Gabriel Dumont, Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber were scratched for Montreal. ... Newly acquired D Wade Redden didn't play and has yet to make his Bruins debut. Jordan Caron and Aaron Johnson were healthy scratches. ... Boston's Patrice Bergeron, who had seven points in three games against Montreal, missed a second game because of a concussion.