MONTREAL -- Two late goals from Tomas Plekanec allowed the Montreal Canadiens to take back two points they nearly let go.
Plekanec scored the winning goal with just over a minute to play and added an empty-netter with less than 30 seconds left to give the Canadiens a 5-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
His first goal, a no-look shot from just inside the blue line with a Blue Jackets defenseman in front of him, caught Sergei Bobrovsky off-guard.
"I tried to put it on net and kind of got lucky. I've been trying that in practice sometimes, so I'm happy it worked tonight," said Plekanec, who reached 400 career points with his double.
The Canadiens (5-2-0) built a 3-0 lead on goals from Rene Bourque, Michael Bournival and Andrei Markov.
Bourque opened the scoring at 4:38 of the first period when P.K. Subban sprung him with a stretch pass through the two blue lines for a mini-breakaway.
Bournival doubled the Canadiens' lead at 12:01. After some shifty work by Subban at the blue line, Markov found the rookie in the right circle and he fired home his first NHL goal.
"It was a really nice pass from Markov, a perfect pass. I didn't have much choice but to put it in the net," a smiling Bournival said. :I was all alone and he saw me. It was a nice play."
Markov put Montreal up by three 6:52 into the second period on the penalty kill when he fired a slap shot from the blue line past a screened Bobrovsky. It was the Canadiens' second short-handed goal of the season.
The loss was the third straight for the Blue Jackets (2-4-0).
"We had too many passengers, guys that didn't want to get involved in the game. Once we got involved in the game, we got more people involved in the game, the game started to balance out and we started to take over at times," Columbus coach Todd Richards said.
On the same power play, rookie Boone Jenner got the Blue Jackets on the board at 7:41. Carey Price made the save on Ryan Johansen's initial shot, but Jenner cleaned up the rebound in the crease for his first NHL goal.
"It's a pretty cool building to get it in, obviously. I watched the Habs a lot growing up in Ontario," Jenner said. "It's one I'll remember, for sure."
Johansen cut the deficit to a goal at 17:11 when he beat Price glove side on a two-on-one.
Columbus tied the score on the power play at 4:35 of the third period. After the Blue Jackets won the draw, Jenner found a rebound of a Mark Letestu point shot and backhanded it over Price for his second goal of the night.
"After the first, we came into the room and we said we can't take our foot off the gas. We did it in Winnipeg and got away with it. Today, it almost nipped us in the butt," said Subban, who extended his point streak to six games with two assists. "We've got to play a full 60 minutes here. The good thing is we're finding ways to win, but we can't always rely on our goaltender to shut the door."
Price made 30 saves for Montreal. Bobrovsky stopped 35 shots for the Blue Jackets.
NOTES: After missing the morning skate with the flu, Canadiens LW Rene Bourque was in the lineup. ... D Nathan Beaulieu was a healthy scratch and LW Max Pacioretty missed the game after suffering a lower-body injury on Tuesday against the Jets in Winnipeg. ... The Blue Jackets were without RW Marian Gaborik (illness), LW Nick Foligno and D Dalton Prout. ... With his assist in the second period, Markov moved into 23rd on the Canadiens' career assists list with 311, passing Bobby Smith. ... Montreal D Francis Bouillon celebrated his 38th birthday. ... Columbus D David Savard, from nearby St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, played his first game in Montreal. ... The 22-year-old was selected by the Blue Jackets in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL draft, which was held at the Bell Centre. ... The game was the first of a five-game homestand for Montreal.