Montreal coach Michel Therrien made a minor tweak to his lineup and it worked so well the Canadiens tied a 63-year-old franchise record.
Therrien shuffled his third line against the Kings on Thursday night and the move paid instant dividends as Montreal beat Los Angeles 4-1 to start the season 9-0-0. The last time the Canadiens started that well was 1953.
Therrien benched forward David Desharnais, who was without a point in his last nine games. Usually on the wing, Phillip Danault took Desharnais' spot at center on the third line. Danault, centering Max Pacioretty and Andrew Shaw, scored Montreal's third goal.
"I loved Danault's game," Therrien said. "For his first game at center, he wasn't lost, he looked natural. Sometimes a player loses himself when he changes position. He was very comfortable out there."
With the Canadiens already leading 2-0, Danault put away Jeff Petry's rebound from a tight angle at 9:37 of the second period for his fourth goal of the season. Former Montreal goalie Peter Budaj, out of position after the initial save on Petry, was impeded by teammate Nick Shore and couldn't get back to his crease.
Pacioretty finished the game with two assists while Shaw was plus-2 with three shots.
"I had some excellent linemates today," Danault said. "It was more a question of playing defensively today. It just means you're playing against bigger lines. But that's just part of the game.
"Shaw and I are great along the boards, and Max has an incredible shot. We complement each other really well."
Carey Price protected Montreal's three-goal lead as the Kings upped the pressure in the third period. Price made 11 of his 23 saves in the third period, including a mystifying stop on Anze Kopitar halfway through the frame.
After an initial save on Drew Doughty, a sprawled-out Price somehow got a glove on a shot from a wide-open Kopitar.
"I just threw a hand up and got lucky," said Price, who has eight consecutive wins to start the season. "One of those things where you get lucky every once in a while."
Added Kopitar: "I don't know how he did it, but he did it. Obviously a highlight-reel save. You'll probably see that one for a while on TV."
Price is 5-1-0 in his last six career starts against the Kings. Montreal's starting goaltender is 19-2-0 in his last 21 starts dating to last season.
Tyler Toffoli ended Price's shutout bid at 11:57 of the third period with Brendan Gallagher in the box for high-sticking.
Budaj wasn't as sharp in his first start against his former club since being traded by Montreal to Winnipeg in 2014.
Looking for his third consecutive shutout, Budaj hadn't conceded a goal in 140:57 when Paul Byron found the back of the net in the first period.
Daniel Carr added a second for Montreal 13:53 into the first period by deflecting Andrei Markov's shot from the point.
"Those first two periods, we just weren't good enough," Kopitar said. "Too many mistakes, too many turnovers, too many broken plays. A speedy team like them, they capitalize on that."
Alex Galchenyuk added a fourth for Montreal into an empty net.
NOTES: Montreal's Greg Pateryn was a healthy scratch. . Former Montreal and Los Angeles G Rogatien Vachon was honored in a pre-game ceremony. On Monday the league announced Vachon would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Kings: Visit the Ottawa Senators on Friday.
Canadiens: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.