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SUNRISE, Fla. — Carey Price stopped 24 shots to pick up his league-leading 42nd win, Tomas Plekanec scored his 200th career goal, and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 Sunday.

Brendan Gallagher, P.A. Parenteau and Devante Smith-Pelly also scored for Montreal.

The Canadiens moved two points ahead of Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division with two games remaining for both teams. Montreal trails the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers by one point for first in the Eastern Conference.

Aaron Ekblad scored for Florida, and Dan Ellis finished with 23 saves.

Plekanec opened the scoring with Montreal on a 5-on-3 power play following penalties by Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson just 3 seconds apart. Positioned on the goal line almost parallel to Ellis, Plekanec scored his 24th goal by sweeping in a wrist shot that slid between the backup goalie’s legs at 6:36 following a pass from Andrei Markov.

The teams traded goals just 46 seconds apart in the second period. Ekblad tied it on a power play at 6:20 for his 12th goal by beating Price low on the glove side. Gallagher regained Montreal’s lead for good by finishing a 2-on-1 off a pass from Subban.

Parenteau split the Florida defence and put in his own rebound for his eighth goal with 8:33 left in the second.

Smith-Pelly capped the scoring with his first goal with Montreal, taking a pass from Parenteau after a turnover by Florida’s Willie Mitchell.

Montreal forward Max Pacioretty left the ice after being interfered with by Kulikov then falling backwards into the boards after his skate made contact with Alex Petrovic’s. Pacioretty, who leads Montreal in both goals and total points, did not return.

Bill Whitehead, The Associated Press




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