Seth Jones was the driving force behind two first-period power-play goals, and the Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight, 5-2 over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
Alexander Wennberg had a goal and three assists, and Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Ian Cole also scored for Columbus.
Behind a run of eight wins in 11 games overall and a season-high six straight at home – including a just-completed four-game homestand – the Blue Jackets moved past idle New Jersey into the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. Columbus also edged within two points of third-place Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division.
Down 4-2 until late, Montreal put Sergei Bobrovsky to the test in the third period. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner stopped all 24 shots the suddenly energetic Canadiens threw his way. He had 38 saves overall.
Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin scored for banged-up Montreal, which has lost five straight and has three wins in its past 16 games. The Canadiens have been playing without Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and Shea Weber. Charlie Lindgren was weak on his glove side, finishing with 20 stops while battling traffic in front.
A bright spot for Montreal came early. Gallagher scored the fastest goal against Columbus this season to start a game, only 34 seconds in. He redirected a high shot alone at the crease for his team-leading 25th.
Columbus scored the next three to close out the period. Foligno countered four minutes later on a steal in the Canadiens' zone. His backdoor pass to Oliver Bjorkstrand ping-ponged off two Montreal players and skidded into the net.
Jones then helped add two more for the Blue Jackets, giving him four goals – three of them game-winners – and three assists in his last three games. He set up Wennberg's tip-in goal at 7:51 and scored his own at 14:03, his 14th this season. Jones' 48 points are three short of the franchise record for a blueliner, set in 2013-14 by James Wisniewski.
Early in the second period, not long after Zach Werenski saved a goal by swiping away the puck before it could cross the goal line, Jenner stuffed home his own rebound, the entire play nicely set up by Wennberg.
Drouin scored on a breakaway – spurned by a blocked shot – at 15:46 of the second with a backhander to pull the Canadiens within two.
Cole capped the scoring with a floating wrister with 2:19 left in the game.
NOTES: Columbus scored its three first-period goals on its first seven shots. ... Jones, who left after the second period with an upper-body injury, has a goal in three straight games. He also scored twice Friday against Detroit. ... The Canadiens dropped to 9-22-4 on the road. ... Montreal wrapped up its six-game trip with a 1-4-1 mark and allowed nine power-play goals.
Columbus: At Philadelphia on Thursday.
Montreal: Hosts Dallas on Tuesday.