BOSTON -- Never lacking in intensity, the longtime rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins just keeps building up pressure.
There was an additional bonus on the line in the latest meeting with first place in the Eastern Conference going to the winner in the lockout-shortened season.
Round No. 719 went to Montreal, which rallied with two goals in the third period for a 4-3 win over the Bruins on Sunday night.
"When you play for first place against Boston, our big rival, it's always intense. That's how it's been out there and we found a way to win tonight," said David Desharnais, whose second goal of the game broke a 3-all tie 9:17 into the third period.
The Canadiens held on to the lead, something both clubs struggled with all night, and ended Boston's six-game winning streak in a game befitting the longtime rivals. The scoring was back-and-forth, the hits were hard and frequent and there were two fights worthy of the generations of dislike between the two clubs.
"Obviously it's fun in rivalries. Those are always the best games," said Brandon Prust, who had one of Montreal's two fighting majors for his second-period bout against Milan Lucic. "There's a lot of energy in here. They are fun game and the rivalry is kind of ignited again."
It never takes much of a spark.
Boston outplayed and outslugged Montreal with two unanswered goals in the second period, but Max Pacioretty and Desharnais answered in the third for the Canadiens.
Pacioretty scored his eighth goal of the season, tying the game at 3-all 5:31 into the third, then set up Desharnais with a pass for a quick wrist shot that beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.
Desharnais also beat Rask with a slap shot for an unassisted goal midway through the first period to put Montreal up 2-1.
Peter Budaj finished with 31 saves and Brendan Gallagher added two assists for the Canadiens.
Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two assists, Brad Marchand had three assists and Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton scored for the Bruins, who were called for nine of the game's 14 penalties and allowed a goal by Tomas Plekanec on Montreal's first power play.
Boston coach Claude Julien accused the Canadiens of embellishing some hits, mentioning it several times in his postgame comments and growing more agitated with every reference.
"If we start calling those penalties for embellishment maybe teams will stop doing it," Julien said. "But until we take charge of that it's going to be an issue."
The Canadiens capitalized on their first power-play opportunity. Plekanec's goal with 10:03 left in the first period put the Canadiens up 1-0 and started a brief flurry of scoring. Seguin tied it for Boston 50 seconds later, then Desharnais put Montreal back on top 2-1 with 8:57 still to go.
The second period was more physical and featured two extended fights. Milan Lucic and Brandon Prust broke away from a pack of squared off players after a whistle and started swinging near center ice. Prust wrestled Lucic's jersey over his eyes and the linesmen stepped in as Lucic landed one more heavy shot.
It got chippy once again later in the period when Seguin crashed to the ice after taking a cross check to the hip from Alexei Emelin. Although he wasn't penalized for the hit, he paid for it when Boston captain Zdeno Chara quickly ran down Emelin for a crushing hit that was quite clearly in retaliation for the shot on Seguin.
Chara wasn't finished. He started slugging the moment Emelin returned to his feet and didn't stop until the officials dragged him away. Chara was called for instigating, fighting, and received a 10-minute misconduct.
"The guy just broke his stick cross-checking Tyler and when he went down, I was just reacting to it," Chara said. "He's one of our best players and I'm not going to just watch him getting crushed like that."
NOTES: Boston's power-play struggles resurfaced late in the opening period when the Bruins failed to get off a shot after Brendan Gallagher was called for charging with 1:10 remaining. The booing started before the horn even sounded and continued as the Bruins made their way off the ice down 2-1. ... The fans went back to cheering when rookie Dougie Hamilton scored his second career goal and gave the Bruins their first lead of the game. ... The game was the 719th between the Canadiens and Bruins, second only to the 724 times the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings have faced off.