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Montreal 3, Columbus 1. Defencemen Arber Xhekaj and David Savard score in third period.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Canadiens received some unexpected offence from their defence corps as they rallied in the third period to post a rare 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday at Nationwide Arena.

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Rookie Arber Xhekaj, who returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch in Tuesday’s 7-2 home loss to Buffalo, pulled the Canadiens even at 1-1 when he scored his third goal of the season 2:38 of the third period.

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And David Savard got the bounce when he was credited with his first goal of the season at 3:35. He went hard to the net and was rewarded when Kirby Dach’s pass caromed off his skate.

Sean Monahan completed the scoring into an empty net.

There was no scoring until Mathieu Olivier, who was born in Mississippi where his father Simon was playing in the ECHL, took advantage of a turnover by Mike Matheson in the defensive zone to score an unassisted goal at 1:08 of the third period.

The Canadiens, who improved to 10-9-1 on the season, haven’t had much success here. They lost to the Blue Jackets 6-4 last week and Columbus had an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 home games against Montreal.

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Sam Montembeault made 29 saves as he ran his record to 4-2-1.

For the third consecutive game, the Canadiens got off to a slow start, which was not that surprising because they played 24 hours earlier in Montreal. The difference this time around was that the Blue Jackets also struggled to get going and Montreal outshot the home team 7-6 in the scoreless first period.

Montembeault had to stop back-to-back breakaways early in the second period. After the Blue Jackets held Montreal to one shot on goal during a power play, Olivier had a clean breakaway coming out of the penalty box, but Montembeault made the glove save. Gustav Nyquist had a breakaway 14 seconds later, but Montembeault closed the five hole.

Cole Caufield created a chance late in the second period while the teams were playing 4-on-4. Joonas Korpisalo came out to play a puck and Caufield poked it off his stick. The Montreal sniper had a shot from a sharp angle but fired wide of the net.

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The Montreal power play remains a work in progress. The Canadiens, who went 0-for-6 Tuesday against the Sabres, came up empty on three opportunities here with only one shot on goal.

Martin St, Louis made a change on defence with Xhekaj and Johnathan Kovacevic returning to the lineup after they were healthy scratches on Tuesday. They replaced Chris Wideman and Jordan Harris.

The Canadiens move on to Chicago for a Thanksgiving weekend afternoon game Friday (2 p.m, TSN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

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    Canadiens rally for a rare win in Columbus

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