MONTREAL – For a player who had just sat out two games with a virus, Alexander Radulov had plenty of energy.
The Russian winger set up goals by linemates Paul Byron and Alex Galchenyuk as the Montreal Canadiens ended a three-game skid with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Montreal (14-3-2) has won 12 straight games against its oldest rival dating to Jan. 18, 2014.
Radulov was all over the ice in his return, picking up two assists and skating hard at both ends. He had missed games Tuesday against Florida and Friday at Carolina with an illness that he first felt during a 3-2 loss last Sunday in Chicago.
"It was bad," said Radulov, whose 16 points in 17 games place him second on the team in scoring to Galchenyuk. "I had a fever. ... In Chicago, I felt it in the morning but it wasn't that bad. But it got worse overnight and I went to the hospital. But I battled through."
Having a healthy Radulov back seemed to pick up the entire team. The Canadiens needed that, as well as Carey Price's 31 saves, in an entertaining, end-to-end game against the quick, young Maple Leafs.
Radulov, a former Nashville Predator, has been a pleasant surprise for Montreal since he signed a one-year deal as a free agent in the summer after playing four seasons in the KHL.
"We've all been around people who have that kind of energy, and it's contagious," Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber, not intending a pun, said of Radulov. "That be-positive attitude. Guys feed off that. It's not an act. It's who he is."
As coach Michel Therrien put it: "He's intense. He loves practice. He loves meetings. He loves the game."
William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs (8-7-3), who were coming off a pair of home wins in which they totaled 12 goals.
They pushed hard in the third period, but couldn't get a second goal past Price.
"We're happy with the way we battled at the end," Toronto defenseman Morgan Reilly said. "We were right there the whole game.
"It was a one-shot difference. To keep it close was good, but you want to get one at the end there and tie it up and at least get a point."
The Maple Leafs got another good effort from goalie Frederik Andersen, who faced 29 shots and had little chance on either goal he allowed.
"Freddie's been outstanding," Reilly said. "It's about us giving him the support he needs. We have a lot of confidence in him. He's earned it."
Byron was on the doorstep to jam the rebound of Shea Weber's shot past Andersen at 15:45 of the first period. It was the diminutive winger's seventh goal of the season, only four shy of his career high.
The Canadiens were 5 seconds into a power play when Galchenyuk also got his seventh of the season. He won a faceoff back to Weber, who slid the puck to Radulov on the right wing for a perfect feed in front. Galchenyuk put the puck into an open side 32 seconds into the second.
Toronto struck back on the man advantage at 8:47 on an equally sweet three-way passing play, this time in tight traffic as the puck went from Auston Matthews to Leo Komarov to Nylander alone on the right side for his sixth of the season.
"They've got a skilled, young team," Weber said. "They're good on the power play and they've got speed.
"I thought we did a good job of staying behind them and taking away that speed a bit."
It was the second meeting this season between the rivals. The Canadiens also won 2-1 at home on Oct. 29. Their next two matchups are in Toronto on Jan. 7 and Feb. 25.
NOTES: Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty played his 500th NHL game. ... Martin Marincin, Peter Holland and Frank Corrado were scratched for Toronto, while Montreal sat out Daniel Carr and Greg Pateryn.
Maple Leafs: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Canadiens: Host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.