MONTREAL — Brendan Gallagher scored his first career hat trick to give the Montreal Canadiens a convincing 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tomas Tatar also scored for the Canadiens (33-21-7), who have won two games in a row. Carey Price stopped 29 shots for his 25th victory of the season.
Price is three wins away from tying Jacques Plante as the winningest goaltender in Canadiens history with 314.
Michael Raffl scored in the third period for the Flyers (28-26-7), who have dropped two straight after winning three in a row.
Goalie Carter Hart gave up three goals on nine shots before getting the hook 10:33 into the game. Backup Brian Elliott stopped 29-of-31 shots in relief.
It was deja vu for the rookie Hart, who was pulled at 10:23 of Philadelphia’s last game after also conceding three goals on nine shots — in a 5-2 loss at home to Tampa Bay.
On a night where UFC legend Georges St-Pierre was honoured at the Bell Centre after announcing his retirement, the Canadiens took down their opponents with similar skill and precision as the famed fighter.
Gallagher scored his first of three goals just 58 seconds into the encounter with a wrist shot from the edge of the face-off circle — Montreal’s league-high sixth goal in a game’s opening minute (tied with the Carolina Hurricanes).
The Canadiens scored twice on their first two shots of the game when Kotkaniemi netted his 15th of the season at 3:11 after a skillful zone entry by Paul Byron.
Gallagher chased the 20-year-old Hart from the game when he made it 3-0 with a shot from an impossible angle, along the goal line from the corner of the rink.
Elliott fared better for the visitors but he couldn’t slow Montreal down.
Gallagher completed his hat trick 2:56 into the second period with a back-handed shot, top corner, with his back to the net for his first three-goal game in 467 NHL matches.
Tatar added insult to injury three minutes later with a top-shelf wrist shot on a clever no-look pass from Max Domi behind the net.
With the assist, Domi set a career high with 53 points.
Raffl scored a consolation goal for the Flyers in the third period by deflecting Shayne Gostisbehere’s shot past Price at 10:23.
Notes: Montreal plays seven of its next eight games away from home. … The Flyers had not lost on the road since Jan. 12. … Phillip Danault set a career high with 41 points.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press