BOSTON — The NHL’s leading goal scorer tied the game in the third period, but it was David Backes who won it for the Bruins with his first goal of the season, in his first game back after missing 13 in a row.

Five days after the Bruins crushed the Canadiens in Montreal 8-1, it looked for a while like the Canadiens would get their revenge via shutout. David Pastrnak made sure that wouldn’t happen with his third-period goal, and Backes scored the winner in the Bruins’ 3-1 win Sunday night.

“One of those games where we had to stick with it, show some character,” said Backes. “Eventually, we got the payoff for it. It’s great to be a part of it and to contribute.”

Another sluggish start Sunday made it look like it was going to be one of the Bruins’ poorest efforts of the season, and it took until a four-minute stretch in the third period to change that narrative.

“I thought (the Canadiens) had a lot of energy, I give them credit,” said Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy. “They came in and skated well. I thought they, we were a little more attack-oriented (in Montreal last week), they didn’t allow us to do that early, we got frustrated. … We’re not playing fast and they took advantage of it. … Eventually we came around. We’re still working on that part.”

Backes has been out since Nov. 2 when he and the Senators’ Scott Sabourin were involved in a scary collision that left him with an upper-body injury.

Sunday, with nine seconds left on a third-period power play, he fired from the slot to put the Bruins ahead.

“That was elation,” he said.

The win gives the Bruins 43 points, tied with the Capitals for the most in the NHL, with a game in hand.

Just 1:58 into the game, the Canadiens struck.

Zdeno Chara turned the puck over behind the net to red-hot Joel Armia, and the winger flipped it past Tuukka Rask to go ahead 1-0.

The Bruins had started slowly the past couple of games against Ottawa and New York, and that carried over a bit on Sunday night, when the Canadiens had 11 takeaways in the first period, several of them aided by the Bruins.

Frustration boiled a bit late in the second when Shea Weber tripped up Pastrnak for the first Bruins’ power play of the game. All five skaters for each team engaged, and that scuffle ended with Jake DeBrusk in the box as well, but the Bruins still had a power play.

With 13:42 left in the third, though, with the possibility of a shutout looming, Pastrnak did what he does: he scored.

Anders Bjork connected with Pastrnak off the side boards. Pastrnak let loose a cannon from the right circle to make it a 1-1 game with his 25th goal of the season.

“He’s arguably the best player in the league,” said Cassidy. “Or the hottest.”

With 10:29 gone, Backes scored his first goal of the season on the power play to put the Bruins ahead for good.

Less than three minutes later, DeBrusk joined in on the fun with his sixth goal. Connor Clifton got the puck out of the defensive zone and to Charlie Coyle, who found DeBrusk and he wristed in the insurance goal.

Montreal was in rough shape when the Bruins were there earlier in the week, but have now dropped eight straight. The Bruins, meanwhile, have won seven in a row dating back to Nov. 19.

“I don’t think we’re ever out of games,” said Cassidy. “Goaltending has a lot to do with that.”

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