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Tatar scores winner as Canadiens edge Blue Jackets to snap four-game slide

MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens put an end to a tough losing streak on Tuesday.

MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens put an end to a tough losing streak on Tuesday.

Tomas Tatar scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Montreal Canadiens held on to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a four-game slide and collect their first win since Feb. 4.

Paul Byron and Max Domi also scored for Montreal (32-21-7) and Carey Price made 30 saves.

"We knew, everyone knew, that this was the biggest slump of the year," Domi said. "That one's out of the way, now we just got to focus on the next one."

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots and Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno scored for Columbus (33-23-3).

"Worked hard to get back in it. Couldn't finish," Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said.

The Blue Jackets were playing the second game of a back-to-back after losing to Tampa Bay Monday night. The visitors were also without forward Artemi Panarin, who sat out due to illness.

Byron scored in his return to the lineup after missing the last six games due to a forearm injury.

Domi put the Canadiens on the board 90 seconds in. The forward powered up the wing and tried to feed Jonathan Drouin on a two-on-one. The puck instead went off forward Eric Robinson, and Domi batted the puck past Bobrovsky for his 20th of the season.

Byron's goal came nearly 16 minutes later. After a Jesperi Kotkaniemi shot went wide of the net and off the backboard, Byron was first to the puck and buried it past Bobrovsky for his 11th of the season.

In the second period, Domi and Nick Foligno, both sons of former NHL enforcers, exchanged blows after Foligno hit Canadiens' defenceman Mike Reilly from behind.

"When one of your buddies gets hit like that, you got to step in," Domi said. "That's part of what being a teammate is."

"(Domi) asked me, and I said 'if you want to fight, let's fight,'" Foligno said. "I'm sure our dads would be proud."

The Blue Jackets scored in the opening moments of the second period, when Anderson sniped one past Price.

Foligno tied the game in the third period when he put a rebound past Price. Anderson picked up his second point of the night with an assist.

But the Canadiens retook the lead at 13:08 of the third period on Tatar's 19th of the season. Defenceman Jordie Benn hung along the boards and fed Tatar with a pass to Bobrovsky's right and he quickly tapped it past the goaltender.

Tatar said he was trying to find the right position on the play, but he locked into place once his eyes met Benn's.

"I got a little lost," Tatar said. "I think Jordie looked at me and I just stopped there. He made a beautiful pass for sure."

"A great pass," Canadiens' head coach Claude Julien said. "When (Benn) got to the bench, I made sure to tell him. It was a great play on a winning goal."

The Habs are two points clear of the Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference standings. Columbus, meanwhile, fell out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and into the second wild-card spot. The Carolina Hurricanes also lost Tuesday, leaving them three points behind Montreal.

The Canadiens play their next game Thursday night, hosting the Philadelphia Flyers. Columbus plays the Ottawa Senators Friday.

NOTES: Byron played in his 400th career NHL game. ... Blue Jackets' forward Brandon Dubinsky suited up in his 800th career game.

Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press