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MONTREAL – Tomas Plekanec found his scoring touch just in time for the Montreal Canadiens.
Plekanec scored with 1:07 left to break a tie and added an empty-net goal to give the Canadiens a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
The Canadiens squandered a 3-0 lead and were having all they could handle in holding off the Blue Jackets' young forwards when Plekanec came over the blue line and fooled goalie Sergei Bobrovsky by taking a quick shot along the ice instead of passing to open winger Brandon Prust.
The puck went in off the goal post to give Montreal (5-2) its fourth straight win.
"I tried a no-look shot on the goalie," said Plekanec, who had been off to a slow start with only one goal in six games. "I had Prust on the left side, but I wanted to make sure I didn't make a turnover, so I put it on the net. I kind of got lucky."
The Blue Jackets got a power play in the final minute, but Plekanec was sent in alone by Prust for the empty-net goal with 16 seconds remaining. It was Montreal's second short-handed goal of the game.
"It's great, especially after a slow start for myself and our line," he said.
Michael Bournival got his first NHL goal, and Rene Bourque also scored for Montreal (5-2), which has won four in a row. P.K. Subban had two assists for 10 points in his last six games
Rookie Boone Jenner scored his first two NHL goals, and Ryan Johansen got his first of the season for Columbus (2-4), which has lost three in a row.
Jenner scored both of his goals by going to the net to pick up rebounds on power plays.
The first came during the same Columbus man advantage that Markov scored a short-handed goal on at 6:52 of the second to put the Canadiens up by three goals.
"It was pretty special," Jenner said. "We got some momentum off of it, so it was good.
"It's a pretty cool building to get it in. I watched the Habs a lot growing up in Ontario. So it's kind of cool. It's one I'll remember for sure."
The Blue Jackets, who were missing Marian Gaborik (flu) and Nathan Horton (shoulder), came out with energy but quickly trailed 2-0.
"We're a team that never quits," the 20-year-old Jenner said. "We're not going to change our game no matter what the score is. We were down 3-0 and we started to pick it up. Getting a couple of power plays got us rolling a bit."
Bourque, who has also been battling the flu, was alone at the far blue line during a power play, and took a long pass up the middle from Subban that turned into a breakaway goal only 4:38 in.
Subban drew two opponents away to get the puck to Andrei Markov for a clever cross-ice pass that Bournival didn't get all of, but the puck slid through Bobrovsky's pads at 12:01.
Markov made it 3-0 with a short-handed goal as his weak shot from the point went off a stick and past Bobrovsky 6:52 into the second.
Columbus struck back on the same power play as Jenner went to the net to pick up Johansen's rebound and lift it past Carey Price at 7:41. Johansen elected to shoot on a 2-on-1 rush and scored his first of the season at 17:11.
Jenner tied it on the power play 3:42 into the third when he scooped up Mark Letestu's rebound off Price's shoulder and put a backhanded shot under the crossbar.
It looked to be headed for overtime when Plekanec surprised Bobrovsky.
"He made it look like he was going to dish it off to the guy going with speed on the other side, and then he just threw it across his body," Price said of the goal. "I know it caught (Bobrovsky) by surprise because he was a good couple of feet off where he should have been."
NOTES: Sean Collins, who made his first start of the season, replaced Gaborik in the lineup. ... Had Bourque not played, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu would have skated on the fourth line. Beaulieu was scratched. ... There was no update from the Canadiens on Max Pacioretty, who was injured Tuesday at Winnipeg. ... Linesman Derek Amell worked his 1,000th NHL game.