DETROIT — Now on their longest winning streak of the season, the Montreal Canadiens have recovered from their terrible start.
Brendan Gallagher scored twice, and his Montreal teammates added three goals in the second period on the way to a 6-3 victory over the struggling Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
The Canadiens have won four straight and are in the third place in the Atlantic Division — a quick turnaround for a team that started the season 1-6-1.
“We have been better for a while now, but now we are fighting harder and winning games,” said Alex Galchenyuk, who scored one of Montreal’s second-period goals. “That’s what we needed — to find ways to win.”
Charles Hudon and Andrew Shaw scored 43 seconds apart for the Canadiens in the second. Max Pacioretty also scored to help Claude Julien to his 100th win as Montreal’s coach.
Anthony Mantha, Tomas Tatar and Frans Nielsen scored for Detroit. The Red Wings have lost six straight, although three of those defeats came in overtime.
Detroit led 2-1 in the second when the puck came to Hudon after a scramble in front. He lifted it past goalie Jimmy Howard for the tying goal. Moments later, Shaw took a pass from Phillip Danault and beat Howard with a wrist shot.
“You can’t give away easy goals in this league and expect to win. We better figure it out,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “The other thing I’d say is not enough guys with the real crazy commitment to winning.”
Galchenyuk made it 4-2 late in the second.
“Individually, everyone’s got to look at themselves in the mirror and be better, win more battles,” Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader said. “We had the lead going into the second period and self-destruct a bit, turn some pucks over. Against a team like Montreal, they live off turnovers, especially in the neutral zone. So you’ve got to take care of the puck.”
Gallagher has 12 goals this season. Both his goals Thursday came on deflections in front. The second made it 5-2 in the third, and Pacioretty added a power-play goal later in the period.
Nielsen’s goal came on the power play as well and made it 6-3.
Gallagher gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal in the first, but Mantha answered 64 seconds later with his 12th of the season. Tatar put Detroit up 2-1 with a power-play goal, beating Carey Price with a wrist shot from the left circle.
“Shaky start, when you look at — third game in four nights, and got in in the early morning,” said Julien, whose team won at home against Ottawa on Wednesday. “We had some heavy legs. I think that we had to kind of get going, and I thought from the second period on we were a much better team.”
Price won both games of the back-to-back set for Montreal, and he’s 4-0 since returning from a lower-body injury. His save percentage in that span is .962.
“I thought the confidence started coming around before Carey came back,” Julien said. “But when Carey comes in, that’s another added element. The confidence level certainly takes another jolt in the right direction.”
NOTES: Gallagher has 99 goals in his career. … Detroit outshot the Canadiens 31-25. … Montreal was without D Shea Weber (lower body) and forward Jonathan Drouin.
The Canadiens and Red Wings play the back end of their home-and-home series in Montreal on Saturday night.
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