With the clock ticking down at the end of the third period, Paul Byron and the Canadiens spoiled P.K. Subban's return to Montreal.
Byron scored the tiebreaking goal with nine seconds left and Montreal edged the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Thursday night in Subban's first game against the Canadiens since they traded him last summer.
Brendan Gallagher tied the game midway through the third period and Carey Price made 24 saves for his 28th victory as Montreal extended its winning streak to four games.
"We talked about getting some secondary scoring and we got some tonight," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "Secondary scoring won us the game. When different people go out and give you those goals, that just makes us that much stronger."
Ryan Ellis scored for the Predators, with an assist from Subban, before leaving with a lower-body injury. Pekka Rinne stopped 24 shots in defeat as Nashville had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Byron poked the puck away from Matt Irwin in the neutral zone and chased it down the length of the ice on a breakaway with time running out in the third period. Rinne got his body on the shot, but the puck trickled past him for Byron's first goal in 14 games.
"I've been doing some really good things lately, and sometimes the puck just doesn't bounce your way," Byron said. "And you have to try not to stay frustrated and deviate from your game."
The loss was Nashville's first in regulation at Montreal since Jan. 15, 2009.
"We sat back a bit in the second," Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "In the third it was an even hockey game. They buried the one chance, but even after that I thought we responded well. We got down into their end and had our chances, and then it was a tough break."
The Canadiens saluted Subban with a video montage before the puck was dropped. A teary-eyed Subban acknowledged the crowd during a long standing ovation.
Montreal won 2-1 in overtime at Nashville on Jan. 3. Subban missed that game with a back injury.
The former Canadiens defenseman needed only a few shifts to get on the score sheet against his former team. With the Predators playing with the man advantage, Subban passed the puck to Ellis, who fired a slap shot from the point past Price to make it 1-0 at 18:25 of the first period.
Ellis limped off the ice in the second with a right leg injury and did not return. The defenseman was hurt fighting for a loose puck with Alexander Radulov.
Montreal's scoring woes continued into March after the Canadiens managed just 21 goals in 13 February games.
After two scoreless periods for the home side, Gallagher got the Canadiens on the board when his wraparound shot deflected off Irwin's skate and through Rinne's legs at 10:55 of the third.
"It's a good feeling," said Gallagher, who hadn't scored in 11 games. "Everyone knows I haven't scored many goals this year. There's definitely a bit of relief. I'm aware I need to produce more and score more goals."
NOTES: Montreal improved to 5-2-0 under Julien. ... Canadiens newcomer Dwight King, acquired at the trade deadline this week, made his Montreal debut. King, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Los Angeles, played on the fourth line with Michael McCarron and Torrey Mitchell. King finished with five hits in 10:37. New additions Andreas Martinsen, Steve Ott and Brandon Davidson were healthy scratches.
Predators: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Canadiens: At the New York Rangers on Saturday night.