MONTREAL – Alex Kovalev scored for a fourth straight game 25 seconds in and assisted on Andrei Markov’s power-play goal to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

Facing former goaltending partner Cristobal Huet, Carey Price came within 7:42 of recording his first shutout in over four months but allowed Patrick Sharp’s 26th goal. Price made 28 saves as he and the Canadiens improved to 3-0-1 in their last four games.

Guillaume Latendresse and Mathieu Schneider also scored for Montreal, which remained in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 88 points.

Kovalev scored his 23rd goal when he beat Huet with Montreal’s first shot as the Canadiens took advantage of Duncan Keith’s blind back pass behind his net. He has scored five times during his streak.

Huet stopped 29 shots in his first start in two weeks. He faced his former team for the first time since he was traded to Washington on Feb. 26, 2008.

Sharp mustered the only offense for Chicago, which lost its second in a row following a 3-0-2 run that included a three-game winning streak.

Canadiens forward Andrei Kostitsyn got 19 minutes in penalties 13:34 into the first for instigating a fight with Aaron Johnson. Kostitsyn had an unsportsmanlike conduct minor tacked on to his instigator, fighting major, and misconduct when he went after Johnson after the Chicago defenseman checked his brother, Sergei, into the boards behind the Blackhawks net.

Sergei Kostitsyn left the game with an upper body injury and didn’t return. Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik also sustained an upper body injury in the second period that knocked him out of the game.

Latendresse made it a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal 6:12 into the second period. Latendresse shot his own rebound off Huet and the puck flipped high in the air before sailing behind the Blackhawks goalie into the net.

Price kept his left pad stuck on the right post to deny Dave Bolland’s deke attempt moments later.

Markov scored his 11th goal on a power play 15:52 into the second to increase Montreal’s lead to three.

Sharp made it 3-1 when he spoiled Price’s bid for his first shutout since Nov. 11.

Markov added an assist for his team-leading 62nd point on Schneider’s power-play goal at 16:43.

The Canadiens, who are celebrating their 100th season, were originally scheduled to wear “barber pole” throwback jerseys honoring the 1912-13 team.

Previously worn during a 3-1 loss to Boston on Feb. 1, the sweaters and socks featuring narrow, horizontal bands of red, white and blue were set aside in favor of retro uniforms for the 1915-16 team that more closely resemble Montreal’s current red jerseys.

Notes: Huet, who debuted with Los Angeles, made his second career start against Montreal. Price faced the Blackhawks for the first time. … Canadiens LW Alex Tanguay ended a five-game point streak. Tanguay had three goals and seven assists during the run, including the third five-point game of his career in a 6-3 win over Atlanta one week earlier.

AP-ES-03-31-09 2234EDT


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