ANAHEIM, Calif. – John Gibson made 37 saves, and the Anaheim Ducks moved back atop the overall NHL standings with a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night in a meeting of conference leaders.
Francois Beauchemin and Rickard Rakell scored for the Ducks (42-17-7), who have won four straight games and seven of eight overall.
Cam Fowler added a short-handed, empty-net goal with 2:02 to play before Alex Galchenyuk ruined Gibson’s shutout bid on a power-play goal with 1:41 left.
Despite playing its third game in four nights, Anaheim shut down the Eastern Conference’s top team to open a two-point lead over Nashville and a four-point margin over Montreal.
Carey Price stopped 30 shots, but lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 6-10.
The star goalie hadn’t lost two straight games in regulation since Dec. 5-6 during his incredible season for the Canadiens.
Montreal has begun its four-game West Coast trip by getting trounced twice in California, following up Monday’s 4-0 loss at San Jose with another frustrating night.
Gibson was outstanding despite barely missing his first shutout since Oct. 28. The 21-year-old prospect spent much of this winter in the AHL before returning to Anaheim when starter Frederik Andersen was injured last month.
New Anaheim forward Jiri Sekac had an assist in a strong game against the Canadiens, who traded him to the Ducks last week for Devante Smith-Pelly.
The Czech forward says he prefers the Ducks’ aggressive strategies to Montreal’s defensive schemes, and he made a big hit on P.K. Subban shortly before linemate Rakell’s goal in the second period.
Smith-Pelly had a quieter night against the Ducks, who drafted him in 2010. He is scoreless in four games for Montreal.
Newly acquired forwards Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn debuted for the Canadiens, but both were on the ice for Anaheim’s first two goals.
Beauchemin put the Ducks ahead in the opening minutes with an uncharacteristic goal off the rush, gathering a pass from Kyle Palmieri and beating Price to the far top corner. The goal was Beauchemin’s eighth, tying his career high, and his fifth in 11 games.
The Canadiens controlled long stretches and had 20 shots early in the second period, but Anaheim doubled its lead when Sekac hit Subban on the glass and extended a sequence that led to Rakell’s sixth goal.
NOTES: New Ducks D James Wisniewski arrived in Orange County before the game, but the veteran is still out with a bone bruise in his foot, delaying his season debut in Anaheim’s lineup until at least next week. … Montreal C Manny Malhotra was a healthy scratch. … Tomas Fleischmann and Simon Despres played in their second games for Anaheim, which made six trades near the deadline — including four on deadline day.