When star goalie Carey Price exited again with an injury, the Montreal Canadiens responded.
Devante Smith-Pelly and Alex Galchenyuk scored in the opening 1:29 of the third period, and Montreal beat the New York Rangers 5-1 Wednesday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
Smith-Pelley had two goals. Sven Andrighetto and Max Pacioretty also scored for the Canadiens, who have handed the Rangers (16-4-2) two of their four losses in regulation this season.
Price stopped 22 shots in the first two periods and was replaced at the start of the third by Mike Condon in a 2-1 game. After it was over, coach Michel Therrien said Price was sidelined by the same lower-body injury that kept him out for eight games earlier this month. This was his third game back.
Price was the NHL MVP and Vezina Trophy winner last season as the league's top goalie.
Rick Nash scored for the Rangers in their largest loss of the season. New York had won nine in a row at home and 11 of 12 overall.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was lifted after Pacioretty's power-play goal made it 5-1.
The Canadiens (17-4-2) made sure Condon never felt the pressure of a close game at Madison Square Garden. Smith-Pelly scored his second of the night and third of the season from in close off a nice feed by Tomas Plekanec, who had three assists.
Galchenyuk scored on a bad-angle shot that Lundqvist misplayed in helping Montreal move into first place in the conference.
The Canadiens were clearly the better team for the first half of the game and jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring early in the first and second.
Andrighetto, recalled from St. John's last week, put Montreal ahead 4:45 after the opening faceoff with his first goal this season and third of his career. Lars Eller deflected a point shot by P.K. Subban and the puck went to a wide-open Andrighetto for a shot into the net before Lundqvist could get across.
Smith-Pelly got his first at 2:25 of the second period. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi got his stick on a pass around the back of the Rangers' net by Plekanec, but it only slowed the puck down. Pacioretty got the puck and quickly sent it in front to a wide-open Smith-Pelly for a point-blank shot past Lundqvist.
Nash, who has five goals in the last three games, got the Rangers on the board by deflecting Ryan McDonagh's shot for a power-play goal at 17:42 of the second.
NOTES: Before the game, Montreal general manager and executive vice president Marc Bergevin was given a multiyear contract extension through the 2021-22 season. ... Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin returned to the lineup after missing five games with lower-body injury. D Greg Pateryn sat out. ... Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath and forward Emerson Etem were healthy scratches. ... Plekanec has assists in four straight games.