Buffalo, NY – Montreal got goals from five different players and Peter Budaj made 14 saves to help the Canadiens clinch a playoff spot with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
The win also moved Montreal into first place in the Northeast Division, one point ahead of Boston after the Bruins lost to the Islanders on Thursday.
Brendan Gallagher, Rene Bourque, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban all lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who have won six of their last eight.
"It's always more fun when you can go in on a win. It's more exciting," said Gallagher. "We can look back at what we've done so far and be happy with it but we can't be satisfied. This is just the beginning."
Brian Flynn scored the lone goal of the game for the Sabres, who have dropped two straight after a three-game winning streak. Ryan Miller gave up four goals on 32 shots over the first two periods, while Jhonas Enroth stopped 9-of-10 shots in the third.
"We were playing a team that was well organized and we weren't sharp," said Miller. "We didn't play our game plan and we got our butts kicked, that's it."
Buffalo is on the outside of the playoff race, as the team is six points back of the eighth-place Rangers with seven games to play.
Montreal opened the scoring 6:43 in on a 3-on-1 rush, as Tomas Plekanec passed the puck from the left wing to the right, where Brian Gionta fed it back to a trailing Bourque for the goal.
It was a 2-0 game less than four minutes later after Michael Ryder worked the puck behind the net and threw it over from the right side to the left, where Galchenyuk slammed it home.
In the second period, the Canadiens made it a 3-0 game after David Desharnais' shot from the left circle was stopped but Gallagher was all alone in front to grab the rebound and sweep it in at the 4:36 mark.
Markov scored on a one-timer from the right circle on the power play with 2:06 left in the second, with the shot popping over Miller and going in.
Flynn and Subban exchanged goals in the third period, with Flynn's coming on a 2-on-1 break with the Sabres shorthanded at 6:45 and Subban scoring on the power play with under three minutes to play.
Montreal missed the playoffs last season ... Montreal plays in Toronto on Saturday ... Buffalo hosts the Flyers on Saturday ... Buffalo won three of its five games with Montreal this season ... Montreal went 2-for-8 on the power play, while Buffalo was 0-for-2.