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Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty dives through the air after being checked by Vancouver Canucks' Dan Hamhuis in front of Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia March 10, 2012.


Erik Cole scored two third-period goals Saturday as the Montreal Canadiens won back-to-back games for the first time in a month by upsetting the Vancouver Canucks 4-1.

Cole gave Montreal a 2-1 lead on a soft backhand shot that eluded goalie Roberto Luongo 13 seconds into the third period.

He made it 4-1 with 8:58 left in the game when he knocked in his own rebound for his 25th goal of the season and third in four games.

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Luongo got a piece of the original shot but the puck lay on the goal-line.

P.K. Subban, on a power play, and Blake Geoffrion, with his first of the season, got the other goals for the injury-plagued Canadiens who outshot Vancouver 30-18 over the final two periods.

Ryan Kesler gave the Canucks a 1-0 second-period lead.

It was only the third win in 10 games for Montreal (27-32-10).

The last time the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers strung wins together was a four-game streak that ended Feb. 11 with a 5-0 triumph in Toronto.

The Canucks (42-19-8) have lost three of the first five starts of a seven-game homestand to place a major obstacle in their path for a second straight President's Trophy.

They trail Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues by three points in the battle for the overall NHL lead.

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Cole gave Montreal the lead on what appeared to be a harmless shot.

He entered the Vancouver zone, had a shot blocked by Alex Edler, but went around the Canuck defenceman and flipped a backhand.

The puck found its way inside the short-side post and under Luongo's glove.

Subban made it 3-1 with one second remaining in a two-man Montreal advantage as he blew a slapshot behind Luongo from the top of the face-off circle.

Edler and Chris Higgins had been penalized for delay of game for shooting pucks over the glass.

The teams were tied 1-1 entering the third period where Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault split up twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin after Cole scored.

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Kesler, who was foiled twice earlier in the middle frame by goalie Carey Price, opened the scoring at 11:58 of the second period with his second goal in as many games.

His hard wrist shot inside the far post finished off a slick three-way passing play with linemates David Booth and Higgins.

Geoffrion, obtained in a trade from Nashville, tied the game at 18:43 of the period when he went to the net to tip Louis Leblanc's pass under Luongo's leg.

Leblanc, called up from AHL Hamilton on Friday, won a puck battle against Edler along the boards to set up the chance.

The goal was Geoffrion's first in the NHL in nearly a year. He also scored a game-winner here for the Predators last season.

The Canadiens were outshot 15-5 in the first period but Lars Eller had the best chance of the opening 20 minutes.

Luongo went to his knees to block Eller's first attempt but the lanky Dane reached around him to knock the rebound off the side of the post.

The injury-depleted Canadiens, who were missing David Desharnais, Travis Moen, Brian Gionta and Mathieu Darche, had some good news with the return of Andrei Markov.

The Russian defenceman hadn't played for 16 months because of a long rehabilitation from two knee surgeries. Markov, who missed 133 games over two seasons, drew a power-play assist.

A moment's silence was held before the game in memory of Nik Zoricic, the Toronto ski cross racer who died Saturday in a World Cup event in Switzerland.

Notes: First-line centre Desharnais suffered an upper body injury in Thursday's 5-3 victory over Edmonton ... he was replaced in the lineup by Leblanc, Montreal's first-round pick in the 2009 entry draft ... Vancouver beat the Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout Dec. 8 in Montreal after the Habs squandered a 3-0 lead ... Max Pacioretty is the first American-born player to score 30 goals in a Montreal uniform.

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