MONTREAL (AP) — Nick Suzuki’s second goal of the game broke a tie late in the third period and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 Friday night.
Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist, and Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen also scored for the Canadiens. Jake Allen stopped 19 shots.
Suzuki also had an assist to give him four goals and two assists in his last four games.
“We know how important these games are, coming to the end of the season,” Suzuki said.
Trevor Lewis had two goals and Paul Stastny also scored for the Jets, who lost their sixth straight in regulation. Connor Helleybuyck finished with 30 saves.
The Jets rank third in the North Division, four points up on the fourth-place Canadiens, who hold the final playoff spot. Calgary is six points behind Montreal.
Winnipeg won the season series with Montreal 6-3, including three overtime victories, but losing the finale allowed the Canadiens to gain ground.
“We’ve got a good team here,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re going through a real struggle. You can panic at your own time, but we won’t here.”
The Canadiens trailed and chased for two periods before tying it up 3-3 late in the second. With Montreal on the power play, Armia got his stick on the puck in the slot to beat Hellebuyck between the pads with 1:46 left in the period.
Suzuki got the tiebreaking goal on the power play with 4:50 left in the third, getting his 12th of the season on a rising wrist shot.
Toffoli’s empty-netter with 1:23 remaining sealed the win.
“The one definitely hurts,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “But so did the last one, so did the one before that. It’s a real test of our team, our group, our character, and certainly one of the toughest stretches we’ve had in a long time.”
The last time the Canadiens scored five goals in a game was March 20 in a 5-4 win over Vancouver.
“To score five goals kind of gives us the confidence we can put the puck in the net,” Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “It’s a good time of year for guys to start feeling good and feeling good shooting the puck, so hopefully we carry that confidence forward.”
Stastny gave the Jets a 1-0 lead with 1:35 left in the first period. Dylan DeMelo sent the puck to Stastny slashing through the middle to score with a wrist shot for his 13th.
Winnipeg doubled the lead 2:20 into the second, when Harkins threaded the puck through the defense for Lewis to score on Allen far side. It was his fourth.
Suzuki got the Canadiens on the scoreboard at 4:58 as he got a loose puck in the slot and beat Helleybuyck with a low shot glove side.
Lewis got his second of the night at 11:47 on an odd-man rush with Jensen Harkins. Lewis went end-to-end with the puck after Montreal’s Erik Gustaffson overskated it and scored his fifth.
The Jets got caught on a line change and Montreal had all kinds of time for Lehkonen to finish a passing play at 13:44 to make it 3-2.
Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry extended his assist streak to three assists in three games.
Forward Adam Lowry (upper body) missed a fourth straight game, but Maurice said he might be able to return to full practice Sunday. Winnipeg forward Nikolaj Ehlers is out for the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
Montreal captain Shea Weber was a game-time scratch with a lower-body injury. The defenseman joined a number of key Montreal players sidelined. Goaltender Carey Price (concussion) and forwards Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb), Jonathan Drouin (leave of absence), Paul Byron and Tomas Tatar (lower body) remained out of the lineup with each missing multiple games.
Jets: At Ottawa on Monday night.
Canadiens: Host Ottawa on Saturday night.
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