MONTREAL (AP) — P.K. Subban is having a series to remember for the Montreal Canadiens.
Subban, Dale Weise and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist, Carey Price made 26 saves, and Montreal beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Tuesday night to take the lead in their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal.
The Canadiens are up 2-1 with Game 4 set for Thursday in Montreal.
Subban, the 2013 Norris trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman, has two points in each of the three games of the series and 11 points in seven playoff games so far.
“I’m just the beneficiary of the guys playing well around me, supporting me,” Subban said. “It starts in goal. Well, it actually starts with our coaching staff and making sure everybody is feeling confident. We’re doing it together. … When we had adversity, we’re sticking together doing the right things.
“It’s fun to play on teams where you know guys are going to support you.”
Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens, who were outplayed for long stretches but made the most of quick-strike attacks.
Patrice Bergeron and Andrej Meszaros scored for the Bruins, who outshot Montreal 28-26.
For the third straight game, the Canadiens held a 3-1 lead in the third period. This time, they didn’t let it completely slip away.
Tuukka Rask was pulled with 2:20 left to play, and only four seconds later, Meszaros beat Price with a high shot through traffic off a feed from Milan Lucic. But the Bruins failed to get the equalizer in the frantic final minute. Then Eller got loose to score into an empty net with three seconds to go.
“We weren’t as good as them in the first period and that cost us,” said Bruins forward Jarome Iginla. “After that, we were playing catch-up.”
The Bruins took control of the puck through the first 10 minutes of play. But Michael Bournival made a gritty play to get the puck around the boards to Subban, who left it for Thomas Vanek for a diagonal pass. That gave Plekanec a shot into an open side for his third of the playoffs at 10:57.
Subban was sent off for roughing after a high hit on Reilly Smith that also took out Vanek, sending the Austrian off the ice with an apparent right leg problem. He returned for the second period.
Eller sent Subban in on a breakaway when the Canadiens defenseman left the penalty box. He faked out Rask and scored on a low forehand shot at 14:44.
Mike Weaver blocked a shot that went to Daniel Briere, who sent Weise in on a breakaway with a pass up the middle. The fourth-line winger beat Rask between the pads at 13:52 of the second.
Bergeron won a face-off from Plekanec in the Montreal zone and reached across himself to deflect Torey Krug’s point shot past Price with 2:12 left in the middle period.
Subban has had two points in each game of the series.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien tweaked his lines, moving Vanek to the second unit with Plekanec and putting Brendan Gallagher on the top line.
Notes: As expected, the Canadiens put Douglas Murray in the lineup for the first time in the postseason in place of Francis Bouillon. Travis Moen went in for Brandon Prust. Ryan White, George Parros and Jarred Tinordi were scratched. … Gallagher celebrated his 22nd birthday. … The Bruins made no changes, with Matt Barkowski, Justin Florek and Corey Potter sitting out.