Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec (14) of the Czech Republic, celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Carlos Osorio
DETROIT - The Montreal Canadiens clogged up the neutral zone and Carey Price took care of almost everything that managed to slip through.
Price made 32 saves, and Maxim Lapierre, Tomas Plekanec and Christopher Higgins scored second-period goals in Montreal's 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
"We didn't forecheck," Plekanec said. "We stayed in the neutral zone and tried to make them make turnovers and we did a great job."
Just the way Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau drew it up.
"They're a team that likes to control the puck," Carbonneau said. "Just tried to play as tough as we can in the neutral zone and make them dump it in."
Johan Franzen scored for Detroit, and Ty Conklin stopped 22 shots.
"I thought they played their system real well," Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "I think we saw their first play was right at the red line and they were backing off and not giving us any speed through the neutral zone. Once we got the puck in we lost a lot of 1-on-1 battles in the corners, couldn't sustain that pressure that we wanted to."
Lapierre opened the scoring 5:23 into the second period when his attempted pass from behind the net deflected in off Lidstrom's skate.
"You get the puck to the net and good things are going to happen," Conklin said. "Bad things, in our case. Not a whole lot went well for us certainly at the other end."
Plekanec's power-play goal with 7:13 left made it 2-0. His one-timer from the right circle bounced in off of Conklin.
"It put us up 2-0 and created breathing room for us," Plekanec said.
Higgins capitalized on Kirk Maltby's turnover in the Detroit zone, sliding a backhander from the slot off of defenceman Brad Stuart and past Conklin with 6:23 remaining in the second period.
"I'm a big believer in creating your own good bounces," Higgins said. "We played our positions and were able to take advantage of them."
Franzen foiled Price's shutout bid with 6:29 left. Franzen took the puck away from Canadiens' defenceman Ryan O'Byrne in the neutral zone, came in off the left wing, turned O'Byrne around with a couple of moves, cut into the slot and beat Price with a backhander for his 10th goal.
Price was disappointed in losing the shutout but was still happy.
"It's tough, but two points is more important," Price said.
Note: Detroit LW Tomas Holmstrom missed his fourth game because of back spasms. ... The Red Wings assigned RW Darren McCarty to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids and recalled C Darren Helm. Immediately after the game, Detroit sent Helm back down and recalled McCarty. ... Montreal RW Georges Laraque missed his second game with a groin injury. ... Canadiens' LW Alex Tanguay didn't return because of a sore neck after taking a check from Detroit D Brad Stuart along the boards early in the first period. Carbonneau said Tanguay is day-to-day ... Montreal last visited Detroit on Jan. 15, 2007. ... Lidstrom is the leading vote getter in the Western Conference for the NHL all-star game. Marian Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are 1-2-3 among forwards.