MONTREAL — After giving up a three-goal lead, the last-place Montreal Canadiens showed enough composure to recover and get their third win of the season.
Philip Danault scored his second goal of the game midway through the third period to lead the Canadiens to 5-4 victory over the struggling New York Rangers 5-4 on Saturday night.
Paul Byron, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty also scored for the Canadiens, and Danault also had two assists for his first career four-point game. Carey Price made 22 saves in the final game of Montreal’s three-game homestand.
Montreal led 3-0 in the first period and 4-2 in the second before the Rangers tied it with two goals in the first seven minutes of the third.
“Losing was not an option,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We have to change our approach. We started well but we let them get back in the game. We need to take responsibility for that. But at the end of the day we found a way to win.”
Price improved to 16-6-1 all-time against the Rangers in the regular season, winning 12 of his last 14 games against them.
Pavel Buchnevich, Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad and Brady Skjei scored for the Rangers in just their third road game in 12 games this season. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 38 shots.
Zibanejad made it 4-3 to start the third period as he capitalized on poor defensive coverage from Tomas Plekanec.
Skjei completed the comeback for New York when his shot from the point went off Plekanec’s backside and in at 7:00 of the third.
Danault regained Montreal’s lead at 9:37 when he went five-hole on Pavelec.
“Obviously a good game from everybody,” said Danault. “A lot of emotion in the building. We responded well from last game. It was one of our best games. We were hungry. We worked for our bounces. We worked hard, more than them.”
The Rangers beat the defending Atlantic Division champion Canadiens in six games in the first round of the playoffs in April. This season each team has just three wins.
Pavelec, backup to Henrik Lundqvist, made his second start for New York after leading his team to a win Thursday against Arizona. Pavelec is now winless in Montreal in his last eight appearances.
Montreal outshot New York 43-26.
“Look at that shot margin,” Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher said. “When we compete and win battles and when we hound teams like that, we know we’re a tough team to play against. We did a good job of that. Obviously we’re not happy we let them back in it but we were able to stick with it.”
The Canadiens blew a 3-0 lead after the first period but still earned two points when Danault broke a 4-4 deadlock at 9:37 of the third went he went five-hole on Pavelec.
With a delayed penalty coming to the Rangers, Montreal went up 1-0 in the first when Jonathan Drouin found Byron alone in the slot at 7:51 for his third of the season.
Galchenyuk doubled the lead at 11:09. Gallagher fed Galchenyuk with a cross-crease pass for his third power-play marker of the year.
Danault scored two minutes later as the Canadiens went up 3-0. Danault cashed in a rebound after Andrew Shaw fired the puck on Pavelec on a 2-on-1. Montreal outshot New York 19-2 in the period.
“You can’t win in the NHL by playing 40 minutes,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Our first period, there was no compete. Montreal came out hard and we put ourselves behind the hole. You can’t win that way.”
The Rangers came out with more energy in the second period as Buchnevich got a goal back at 2:21 from the point on the power play. Price never saw the puck with the big-bodied Nash in the way.
Midway through the period, Nash scored on a wraparound with Price out of position.
Pacioretty’s goal with 5:22 remaining in the middle period restored Montreal’s two-goal lead. The Canadiens’ captain put the puck between Pavelec’s pads after the goalie made the initial stop on Shea Weber.
NOTES: The Canadiens have had at least 30 shots on net in every game this year. … Montreal lost 2-0 to New York earlier this season.
Rangers: Host Vegas on Tuesday night.
Canadiens: At Ottawa on Monday night.