Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak dives to makes the save against the Boston Bruins during second period NHL action Tuesday, in Montreal. (CP/Paul Chiasson)
The victory kept Montreal (36-31-6) in range of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot and opened a seven-point gap with 12th place Boston (34-33-5).
The 21-year-old Halak made 30 saves for the shutout. It was his ninth start since being called up from Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Feb. 15. Tim Thomas may have had the tougher saves to make while turning back 32 for Boston.
The Bruins were shut out for a second game in a row after a 7-0 thumping by the New York Rangers on Saturday night. Montreal posted its fourth win in its last five games.
The two teams meet again in Boston on Thursday night and also play each other April 3 in Montreal.
The low-scoring affair was a far cry from Montreal's emotional, end-to-end 3-2 shootout win over rival Toronto on Saturday and the crowd of 21,273 was unusually quiet through the first two periods.
Instead of playoff intensity, the first period produced only sporadic chances as both clubs struggled on what looked like slow ice.
It took until midway through the second frame for Montreal to begin shooting from every angle, looking for traffic in front of Thomas, and that's when their best chances came.
Steve Begin hit a post from the slot, and Alex Kovalev had a shot into an open side tipped high on a brilliant Thomas save just before Latendresse finally opened the scoring at the 19:00 mark. Mike Komisarek's pass was tipped to the onrushing Latendresse, who made a clever move to get past Aaron Ward and go in alone to score his 16th of the season.
Latendresse has five goals in his last six games.
Notes - With the return of C Radek Bonk from a flu, D Mathieu Dandenault returned to the defence and D Josh Gorges was scratched. F Garth Murray, F. Sergei Samsonov and F Alexander Perezhogin (concussion) also didn't play. . . . Shean Donovan (sprained knee), Glen Murray (knee) and P.J. Axelsson (wrist) didn't play for Boston.