Montreal coach Michel Therrien wanted to continue his team's drive to the playoffs more than to snap Boston's 12-game winning streak.
The Canadiens accomplished both.
Alex Galchenyuk scored the only shootout goal, and the Canadiens got their fifth win in six games, 2-1 over the Bruins on Monday night.
"It's not about their streak," Therrien said. "It's more about getting those two points and trying to qualify for the playoffs."
Montreal tied Tampa Bay for the third-most points in the Eastern Conference, but has played one more game.
The Bruins fell one game short of their longest winning streak since 1970-71 and two shy of the club record set in 1929-30.
But their one point from the shootout loss moved them ahead of Western Conference-leading St. Louis for the most in the NHL with 104.
"You can't win 12 in a row and lose one in a shootout and say, 'I'm really disappointed in my team,' " Boston coach Claude Julien said.
Boston was uncharacteristically undisciplined for the two periods then tied it at 1 with just two seconds left on its sixth power play of the game.
Dougie Hamilton's slap shot from the center of the blue line deflected off Patrice Bergeron and past goalie Peter Budaj with 5:26 left in the third period. It was Bergeron's 23rd goal of the season.
Budaj also stopped a four-game Bruins winning streak with a 4-1 victory in Boston on Jan. 30.
"We are very confident with him back there," Montreal forward Brian Gionta said. "That first period he made some huge saves and even in the second he made some big saves where they could have been back in the game real quick."
Boston's last loss came March 1, 4-2 to Washington.
Montreal grabbed the lead on Alexei Emelin's third goal of the season at 6:39 of the first. Emelin's shot from the blue line deflected off Bruins forward Chris Kelly about 30 feet from the net and rose over the glove of goalie Tuukka Rask.
In the shootout, Bergeron, Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand and David Krejci missed for Boston while Thomas Vanek, David Desharnais and Daniel Briere failed for Montreal.
Then Galchenyuk went in close to put the puck between Rask's stick and the post to the right of the goaltender.
"I was excited and all the moves were playing in my head," Galchenyuk said. "They were on a roll and we are happy that we're the team that ended that roll."
The Bruins had three power plays in the first 11 minutes of the third period but were outshot 5-1 as the Canadiens picked off errant passes and cleared the puck from their zone.
"Hopefully, next time when we get that many (power-play) opportunities we'll get more than one (goal)," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said.
The Canadiens won despite losing two forwards, Dale Weise and Travis Moen, early in the first period. Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller sent Weise sprawling into the boards 4:50 into the game then fought with Moen, who challenged him after the hit.
"I felt bad about it. I just kind of bumped into (Weise)," Miller said. "I stood there just trying to make sure he was OK for a second and Moen asked if I wanted to (fight)."
Montreal had an excellent opportunity with a two-man advantage for 44 seconds late in the second period when Johnny Boychuk was called for roughing P.K. Subban and joined Iginla in the penalty box. The Canadiens took four shots on goal before Iginla's penalty ended and none during the rest of the power play.
Budaj came up with a big glove save when he stopped Zdeno Chara's slap shot from the blue line with 5 seconds left in the second period.
NOTES: Montreal C Lars Eller missed the game with a lower-body injury. He has played in 71 of his team's 73 games. ... Former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... Rask is 3-11-2 in his career against Montreal. Budaj is 5-2 in his career against Boston. ... The Canadiens are 31-0-3 when leading after the second period.